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Prospcritas. Sketch tor part of a Mosaic Glass Window Frontispicct 

Official Prc^ciuation of Gifts of Food, Samoa. Water-colour Drawing 90 


Studies from Life : Child's Head, Hand, Old Indian 14 

Study from Life : Father Hecker reading Goethe 16 

Wild Roses and Water Lily. Water-colour Drawing 26 

Infant Samuel. Sketch for part of a Window 52 

Sketch for the Angel of Help, in Memorial Window 60 

Samoan Girl> in the Seated Dance 88 


Bishop Hatto. From the Drawing on W^nxl 19 

The Wolf Charmer. From the Drawing on Wood 23 

Old Hou>e in Snow-storm, Newport, R.I., 1S60. From an Oil Painting in the 

possession of Thornton R. Lothrop, F,sq., Boston 25 

Head of St. John. Study for a Picture in the possession of the Rev. Cyru-^ Bartol, 

Boston 3 ' 

Memorial Cross and Tomb at Newport, R.l 39 

The Arrival of the Magi. Right-hand Panel of the Painting in the Churcli of 

the Incarnation, New York 41 

Pomona. Carved and inlaid Panel in Dining room of the House of Cornelius 

Vanderbilt, Esq., New York 45 

The Ascension. Painting in the Chancel of the Church of the Ascension, New 

York 47 




Music. From a Painting in the Residence of the Hon. Whitelaw Reid, New 

York 48 

The Old Philosopher. Mosaic and Cloisonne Glass Window in the Crane 

Memorial Library, Quincy, Mass 55 

Angels : in the lower part of a circular Mosaic Glass Window in the Second 

Presbyterian Church, Chicago, in course of preparation 5^ 

Mosaic Glass Window. Jewels and pressed Glass. In the Residence of 

W. H. Vanderbilt, Esq 61 

! Mosaic Glass Doorlight. In the Residence of D. O. Mills, Esq 61 

Mosaic Glass Window. Ordinary work, simple cutting o^ 

Part of a Mosaic Glass Window 63 

Mosaic Glass Window. Pressed and dropped Glass 64 

Mosaic Glass Window in the Residence of Cornelius Vanderbilt, Esq., New York 65 

. Mosaic Glass Window in the Residence of Cornelius Vanderbilt, Esq., New York 66 

Mosaic Glass Window in the Residence of Frederick L. Ames, Esq., Boston . . 67 
Angel Sealing the Servants of God in their Foreheads. Watson Memorial 

Window in Trinity Church, Buffalo 69 

Mosaic Glass Window : the Flag of Harvard College, known as the " Battle 

Window." Memorial Hall, Cambridge, Mass 73 

Three lower Windows on the Staircase of the House of Cornelius Vanderbilt, Esq., 

New York 75 

Part of a Mosaic Glass Window. In the Residence of William H. Vanderbilt, Esq., 

New York 76 

Blind Man and his Daughter at Vaiala, Samoa. From a Water-colour Drawing . 83 

I Siva Dance at Night, Samoa. From a Water-colour Drawing 85 

( Siva Dance at Vaiala, Samoa. From a Water-colour Drawing 87 

I Siva in the Seated Dance, Samoa 88 

Aitutagata, the Hereditary Assassins of King Malietoa, Sapapali, Savaii, Samoa, 

October 1890. From a Water-colour Drawing in the possession of Henry 

L. Higginson, Esq., Boston 93 



In this endeavour to give an account of the life and work of John 
La Farge the writer has purposely avoided any attempt to assign him 
set rank. In treating of eminent living artists from foreign lands in- 
formation is generally more desirable than a definite critical estimate ; 
such estimate, always debatable, being doubly unsatisfactory when the 
works of art on which it is based are not fully known to many readers. 
Therefore I have thought it best to supplement the illustrations by a 
brief account of Mr. La Farge's development, ideals, and aims, together 
with a few hints as to the temperament and gifts that constitute his 
artistic personality. I have also tried to give some notion of the 
surroundings that have influenced him -as far as those could be set 
forth by a foreigner after a few years' acquaintance with the man and his 
country. As an offset to certain disadvantages, I may mention having 
been allowed access to several sources of private information and 
reminiscence regarding the time of transition and formation which con- 
stituted the background of this American painter's career. Circumstances 
have likewise been favourable in bringing me, long after my critical 
estimate of La Farge as an artist was formed, into personal relations 
with this remarkable man, allowing me to become familiar with the 
unpublished journals of his travel in the South Seas, and with many other 
interesting memoranda and fragments of autobiography. Knowing how 
greatly such material must increase the value of my essay, I have not 
hesitated to embody extracts from these in my text. For the author's 


generous permission to do so I here offer my sincere thanks. I have 
moreover made free use of Mr. La Farge's published works : the 
Considerations on Paintings lately published by Messrs. Macmillan and 
Co., and the series of An Artist s Letters from Japany which appeared in 
the Century Magazine ; also of a pamphlet on the American Art of Glass^ 
printed for private circulation. While indicating most of the passages 
so used by quotation marks, I have not thought it necessary in every 
case to burden my text with special references. 

Thanks are further due to several persons for the lean of pictures or 
sketches, and to Mr. La Parge for permission to reproduce unpublished 
drawings, the copyright of which belongs to him. 



John La Farcje, the elder, father of the living artist, was a French 
officer who drifted to America in 1806, under some of the peculiar 
circumstances that lend a romantic charm to the immigrations of the 
early part of our century. To us latter-day immigrants, looking back 
from the arid surroundings of intensified city life on those days of open- 
air adventure, they seem almost as remote from the American social 
conditions that we know as does life in the South Sea Islands. Never- 
.theless they are factors in the complex and baffling civilization of to-day 
along the Atlantic seaboard, and every little glimpse of them has thus a 
double fascination for outsiders. Jean-Frederic de la Farge, when a 
midshipman in the French navy, took part in the famous and ill-fated 
expedition of General Leclerc to St. Domingo, where, tempted bv a still 
more adventurous life and by promotion to the rank of lieutenant, he 
exchanged into the land forces. While on an inland expedition he was 
taken captive by the insurgent negroes under General Guerrier. His 
companions were tortured to death, but his life was spared in order — so 
runs the family tradition — that he might instruct the future President of 
the negro republic in reading and writing. De la Farge was held a 
prisoner even after the withdrawal of the French, but at last, being 
warned by his coloured friends of the impending massacre of all 
remaining whites on Easter Sunday, 1806, he managed to escape in com- 
pany with a Dutch gentleman and his wife. They put out to sea in a 
small boat and got away along the coast ; then, abandoning the boat, made 
their way through a tropical forest to the Spanish side of the island. 
Here they found a ship which took them to Philadelphia. 



After Leclerc's death there was less hope of advancement for the 
officers of Napoleon's rivals. The young Frenchman, who had already 
seen the most terrible side of war, was quick to note the great commercial 
future awaiting America and decided to settle there. A youth of energy 
and keen insight, he rapidly became very wealthy, as wealth was reckoned 
in those days, by ventures on the high seas, running blockades, and later 
by purchases of land in New York and the Southern States. A notice- 
able colony of well-born and well-bred Frenchmen lived in New York at 
the time, emigres of the Revolution or refugees from St. Domingo. 
There was even a French school, half military, kept by Victor Bancel, a 
graduate of La Fleche, in which General Moreau of Hohenlinden fame 
occupied himself by teaching during his exile in New York. 

A sister of this Victor Bancel was married seme-titne-in the thi rties 

to a planter from St. Domingo, M. Binsse de St. Victor, and her daughter 

I y; ^. > became the wife of John La Farge the elder, who had sold his plantations 

in Louisiana and was residing on his estates in Northern New York, 
where many French names, including his own, still remain as names of 
places. New York then was very different from New York now. One 
of the artist's earliest recollections is that of watching a sunset over the 
Hudson from their house in beautiful, dignified St. John's Park, and 
seeing all the little roofs and dormers of a side street outlined against the 
sky. Those were the days when people still walked on the battery, where 
large trees grew near the water's edge, and called on their friends living 
in stately old houses that are now demolished, or, if remaining, have 
been converted into consulates and emigrant agencies. In the early 
forties one of the waves of uptown movement landed the La Farge family 
in Washington Place, Washington Square. Even as late as this. New 
York retained its aspect of a cultivated provincial town in country 
surroundings. Intercourse was neighbourly, social life full of quiet 
refinement, literature flourished, art was academic and dignified. On 
sunny afternoons the youths went to meet the maidens in Washington 
Square or Union Square, which still kept their straight walks under 
trees, with little winding paths between. 

New York of to-day is, aesthetically, a most confusing place. All 
observant travellers dwell on the contrasts presented between self-satisfied 
ignorance and survivals of a culture so mellow that our own seems young 


in comparison ; between courtesy and lack of tact, between wealth and 
pauperism, between luxury and discomfort. There is another contrast, 
less often noted, yet of great importance— -that forced upon the artistic 
sense through impressions of sight. On the ugliness of New York it 
is unnecessary to dwell ; every foreign visitor of culture has marked the 
hideous sky-lines, the untidy streets, the discordant mosaic of signs 
and posters, the dirty awnings and plate-glass windows along the 
irregular street fronts of the side avenues, the soulless uniformity of the 
brown stone streets, and the aggressive crudity of many central quarters. 
And yet the city can boast of fine vistas and of an architecture which 
is both interesting and pleasing, especially towards night-fall, when there 
is a certain magnificent picturcsqueness of light and of steam-clouds and 
towering masses. Central Park is one of the finest examples of art in 
landscape gardening that I know of, but it is disfigured by poor sculpture 
and architecture. All these contradictions, trying enough in them- 
selves, are set in landscape surroundings of ideal beauty : of the kind 
that cannot but influence imagination. From the upper part of the 
island, overlooking the capes and bays of the Hudson and its mighty 
sweep as it passes the Palisades, the lines are long, clear, subtle, and varied ; 
the colour combines delicacy and intensity, giving to the landscape now 
a classical severity, now a Southern glow, or again a spiritual beauty, 
imaginative and dreamy. But most characteristic of all is the unique, 
wonderful atmosphere of the Indian summer, when a shimmering haze 
of gold and purple floats between ethereal hills. 

It is a sad blow to the theory of the influence of surroundings that 
those of New York have not been able to persuade the architecture into 
anything like their own semblance. With a few notable exceptions the 
ugliness of man's handiwork matches in degree the beauty of the scenery. 
It was not so in the earlier days of leisure, when great ennobling in- 
fluences had time to work -it is an artificial product of complicated 
social and economical conditions. 

The very violence of the contrast between art and nature must give 
an intensity to aesthetic emotions that has no parallel in Europe, except, 
perhaps, in some of our northern countries. 

When John La Farge was a child this contrast had scarcely made 
itself felt on this side of the water. To us those days— Washington 


Irving's days — seem steeped in a mellow light of culture and sunlit 
provincial peace which cannot be entirely due to our fancy. All writers 
of that time speak of the social life as something finished, refined ; of 
trees everywhere in the quiet streets, of frequent excursions along country 
roads to Bloomingdale, Harlem, and other peaceful country villages. 
I dwell on this matter because both the old-fashioned culture of their 
childhood and the sharp contrasts of manhood must have been factors 
in the development of the Americans of Mr. La Farge's generation. 

His childhood was spent in a home full of books and valuable 
paintings, among the latter being a Lemoinne and some excellent Dutch 
pictures. He was taught to draw in a precise, old-fashioned way by his 
grandfather Binsse, himself a miniature-painter of some talent. " Pro- 
tected by circumstances from that desperate struggle with poverty which 
has maimed most of our painters and crushed many, he received a 
classical and legal education in this country, and then went abroad. 
Without having been directed towards the fine arts especially, he found 
himself as a young man in Paris disposed to try his hand at painting as 
a gracious accomplishment. Moved by this desire he procured an intro- 
duction to Couture and went to work in the latter's studio ; but he had 
not been very long there when the wise artist found out his new pupil's 
talent and advised him to go away and study by himself 

*' ' Your place,' said Couture, ' is not among these students. They 
have no ideas. They imitate me. They are all trying to be little 
Couture 5 / ' '' ^ 

Mr. La Farge worked in a studio because his father wished him to 
do so, but outside of its walls were the Louvre with its Titians and 
Rembrandts, the drawings of the old masters, and endless opportunities 
for archaeological study, which had already begun to interest him. 
There was also the house of his relatives the St. \'ictors, where lived 
his bed-ridden great-uncle, author of many works, historical, critical,, 
and artistic, who had known friends and foes of the French Revolution, 
had been an emigre in Russia, and who retained his interest in all 
things, even to the theatres. Paul de St. Victor, the well-known writer 
and critic, was La Page's cousin ; and many remarkable and gifted 
people came to the house : Russians, members of the Institute, priests^ 

» G. P. Lathrop in Scribner's Monthiy^ 1881. 


art critics, and literary men, among them Chsirles Blanc and Theophile 
Gautier. The young artist's experience with Couture and his impressions- 
of European art are best given in one of the fragments of autobiography 
already referred to. 

"In the course of my stay in Europe in 1856 my father advised me 
to study painting under some master, partly as an accomplishment, 
partly as an escape from my desultory interest in many things. I felt 
also that the study of art would be helped if the knowledge of the most 
technical division became a possession of mine. Edward May, the 
American painter, suggested his own master. Couture, for a teacher, and 
took me to him. Couture was not pleased at my reasons for study, and 
complained of there being already too many amateurs. I pleaded my 
cause successfully, however, and remember arguing the value of the 
middle men, who could explain and interpret new variations and ex- 
pressions to a more outside public. 

" My stay at the atelier was not a long one. It was mainly taken up 
^th the drawing from the model. My master not only approved of my 
work, but warned me of the danger of imitating his manner through the 
methods of his students. \Ay own manner was very different from his 
and theirs, and somewhat old-fashioned, so that I tried to modify it. 
Possibly I would have done so consciously in the direction of those 
around me, but the master's advice was to study and copy the drawings 
of the old masters in the Louvre, and to postpone the practice of 
paunting. All the masters in the Louvre were his choice, and he recom- 
mended me to copy and study whomever I might care for at the moment. 
For the eighteenth century I cared little. For the seventeenth I had 
much respect, but was too young for them. Further back than that I 
had likings which included even the artificial Italians and the disagreeable 
Germans. With quite a comprehension of my inevitable failure, I made 
drawings from Correggio, I^onardo, and others. My greatest fascination, 
however, was Rembrandt in his etchings. I was all- the more willing 
because the methods of the master were not satisfactory to me. They 
seemed to me only ways of rendering some locality of the things 
depicted, and not a successful attempt at a synthesis of light and air. 
I noticed how Couture painted his landscapes as a form of curtain behind 
a study of the model, which in reality belonged to the studio in which it 


was a part, and, with the uncompromising veracity of youth, I could not 
understand the necessary compromises with the general truth of nature. 
Besides that, I was becoming more and more dissatisfied with the systems 
of painting which assumed some convenient way of modelling in tones 
that were arbitrary, and of using colour, after all, merely as a manner of 
decorating these systems of painted drawing. My youthful intolerance 
required the relations of colour for shadow and for light to be based on 
some scheme of colour-light that should allow oppositions and gradations 
representing the effects of the different directions and intensities of light 
in nature, and I already became much interested in the question of the 
effect of the complementary colours. It seemed to me that I noticed the 
recognition of such or similar truths in the greater of the old painters, 
and I missed its directness in the more modern work about me, except in 
Delacroix, who fascinated me, but troubled me, and in some of the 
landscape painters then fighting their way to fame. I was intolerant — 
yet Parisian skill interested me as well as the keen wit developed in 
the life in the studios. I still remember some of the master's sharp 
criticisms of other painters many of them distasteful to his provincial 
pupil. Of my brief sojourn I remember little else, unless it be that 
M. Puvis de Chavannes, also an amateur apparently, must have been 
in the studio occasionally. 

'' Intending to return, and pursuing the teacher's advice, I followed 
the drawings of the old masters in the collections of Munich and Dresden 
(this was before the time of photographs), and gave up for that an 
invitation to accompany Paul de St. Victor and Charles Blanc in a tour 
of Northern Italy. I have never known whether I did well or ill, for I 
cannot tell what the effect upon me might have been of the inevitable 
impression of the great Italian paintings seen in their own light and 
their native place. 

'' A visit to the Manchester Exhibition and a short stay in England 
determined for many years certain admirations, and confirmed me in the 
direction of my ideas of colour. The few pre-Raphaelite paintings that 
I saw, and the drawings of some of the leaders in that movement, 
appealed strongly to me. Nor did they seem disconnected from the 
charm of Sir Joshua and of Gainsborough, or from the genius of Turner, 

which vet offended me by its contradiction of the urbanity and sinceritv 

• • • . 


of the great masters whom I cared for most. But the pre-Raphaelites, 
as seen through my eyes- -Millais, and Hunt, and Rossetti, and Ford 
Madox Brown (Sir Edward Burne Jones had not yet appeared within 
my horizon) - -seemed to me to be willing to meet many of the great 
problems of colour, and my youthful energies sympathised with the 
stress and intensity of their dramatic programme. These likings I 
retained later when I began to think again of painting, even though 
Mr. Ruskin's teachings had become stumbling-blocks rather than helps 
to my likings and my judgments. I find the trace of these influences 
pleasantly lingering in some of the drawings which I made even ten 
years later, and some few words of praise accidentally dropped by Millais 
or Rossetti in favour of some trifle of mine which had found its wav to 
England pleased me as establishing a relation to them that my general 
tendencies of work and study could not imply to many of my friends. 
For, by that time, the Frenchmen Rousseau, Corot, Millet- -repre- 
sented for me the most important of the European developments, and 
my liking for them, which was not one of imitation, included also a 
more serious appreciation of the individual importance of Delacroix. 
I did not feel inclined to consider these various masters as guides in 
whose hand I should merely put mine, but, following my own 
studies and my own desires, I liked to think that, in a more humble 
way, on a lower level, I was still travelling forward in some road leading 
in the same direction as theirs. Giotto did not seem to me the antithesis 
of Rembrandt, and, in my first attempts at painting for churches, I 
certainly had in mind the directness of the earliest of masters, at least 
in so far as to believe that their example represented and contained the 
main lessons of our art.' 



As yet, however, the young man had no wish to become a painter. 
He returned to New York, entered a lawyer's office, spent his leisure as 
other young men did ; found time for sketching, dreaming, observing — 
found time also for much reading of poetry, mystic philosophy, logic, 
books of travel, history, science, anything that would show him a new 
aspect of the infinite mystery which surrounds all things. He kept up 
his archaeological studies with the help of books and engravings, for 
photography had not yet brought the art of the world within the reach 
of all. The prints from the Giottos in Padua, published by the Arundel 
Society, f tulty though they were, gave him great delight. In the dis- 
tressingly crude churches his imagination evoked visions of new possi- 
bilities for an art both deeply religious and decorative. At the same 
time the Far East began to fascinate both the mystic and the artist in 
him. Still he remained undecided. As he somewhere says : " No one 
has struggled more against his destiny than I ; nor did I for many years 
fully acquiesce in being a painter, though I learned the methods and 
studied the problems of my art. I had hoped to find some other mode 
of life, some other way of satisfying the desire for a contemplation of 
truth, unbiassed, free, and detached.'' And all this while the technique 
of painting began to interest him more and more seriously. 

New York at this time must already have grown to be very different 
from the New York of La Farge's childhood. As one reads or listens 
one catches glimpses of a growing city ; of fine types of old culture 
remaining while keen young spirits from other States crowd in,- -the 
beginning of that centralisation which has made New York one of the 


cosmopolitan cities of the world. The main impression left upon one's 
mind is that of ambitious provincialism tempered by an element of old- 
world bookish culture, not without some demand for art, but art that we 
now find it almost impossible to understand : the kind represented in ''art 
unions'' and academies, and that went with red plush sofas and heavy 
rose-wood carving. The most prominent group of artists composed the 
Hudson River School, so called because their work was identified with 
the scenery surrounding New York. They painted the Hudson as they 
painted the Catskills, or Lake George, or any other scenery that was 
'''grand and picturesque." It is very hard to do them justice now. 
Europe has its counterpart to this school of arranged landscapes with 
■effective trees, conventional sunlight, and glassy water ; we have all seen 
specimens of them, speculated vaguely over the nature of the impulse 
that prompted their creators, and been more perplexed than helped by 
certain signs of talent which they display : a general feeling for nature 
not strong enough to bring the artist face to face with her ; some under- 
standing of composition not deep enough to produce pictures of the 
kind that used to be called " historic " and that we are now beginning 
to term "synthetic." Although Mr. [.a P\irgc felt the admiration of 
an earnest beginner for the older craftsmen, it is evident that such a 
school could not help him in his needs or sympathise with his deep 
appreciation of art like the Japanese, then so little understood any- 
where, or of the religious painting of the early Italians. But he went 
on painting, and was soon fortunate in finding both a friend and a master 
in William Hunt, whom he followed to Newport, Rhode Island. 

Hunt was a New Englander, fresh from long residence in France, 
where he had been one of the first discoverers and a favourite pupil of 
Jean Francois Millet. He might have made for himself a European 
reputation save for the conviction common to many strong men that his 
place was in his own country. He may be called the earliest interpreter 
of the modern French school in America. After this lapse of time it is 
difficult for us to judge him by his work alone, for, like many other 
artists who have influenced their contemporaries, much of his power lay 
in a vigorous personality. He was a suggestive and successful teacher, 
and the time absorbed by giving lessons has unfortunately deprived us of 
much original work. Although in close personal association with Millet, 


and even imitating him, Hunt was unconsciously more influenced by- 
Couture. La Farge, in turn, was much influenced by Hunt, especially in 
figure-painting. In the painting of still-life and flowers he followed a 
method of his own, based on the principles that he had admired in the 
pre-Raphaelites. It is a noteworthy fact that he did not as yet feel any 
special aptitude for the rendering of colour, although he saw it every- 
where. He suffered so much from the technical difliiculties of painting 
that at Hunt's suggestion he worked for a time in values of black and 
white, placing his colour in over-painting with timid care, as can be seen 
in the early study of a boy's head now in the Boston Museum. Becom- 
ing more skilful, he painted everything that came to hand, refraining 
from deliberate choice of subject. ''The development of the art of 
painting seemed to him the rendering of the gradations of light and air 
through which we see form, and the problem of to-day was how to paint 
anything and invest it with beauty by mere sincerity and observation." 

When he began painting from nature out of doors his master found 
fault with him for '' paying too much attention to refinements which not 
one artist in a hundred would understand.'' But to the young man it 
seemed impossible that grass should be always of the same green, and that 
the hour of the day should make no diflference in effects. The world of 
sight was full of infinite mystery, of endless variety, not to be repre- 
sented by a method which could be taught by recipe. Notwithstanding 
that the methods of master and pupil were so widely divergent, their 
close personal sympathy continued cordial throughout. 

In i860 Mr. La Farge married Miss Margaret Perry, a great-grand- 
daughter of Benjamin Franklin, and a granddaughter of the Commodore 
Perry who commanded .it the battle of Lake Erie. He now made his 
home in Newport, Rhode Island, and the following years were spent 
partly there and partly in New York. Dreams of the possibility of 
realizing his conceptions of religious painting began to occupy his mind. 
This was the period of the civil war. The artist was debarred by 
extreme short-sightedness from enlisting in the army, but, like all 
Americans, he felt deeply the great struggle which was going on. Some 
of the figures painted at the time, notably that of St. Paul, show the 
influence of his patriotic emotions in a very interesting way. This 
picture, which I know only in reproduction, is no longer in the complete 


state described by Mr. Lathrop in his essay in Scribner 5 Monthly y 1881. 
It has received some injury, especially to the head, while cleaning and 
repairing have hurt it still more. I will quote from Mr. Lathrop's 
article : — 

" The figure of St. Paul, alone, stands facing us, as if we were 
among his listeners. This in itself is a bold and original conception. 
Instead of the whole scene being placed before us, with the Apostle and 
his hearers equally removed from us, as in Raphael's cartoon, our 
imagination is quickened into a half-belief that the saint is actually 
present, and no more than ourselves a mere effigy on canvas. To 
produce this effect was, of course, harder than to conceive of it ; but the 
attempt has succeeded. The preacher stands majestic, at ease, with the 
rough, unstudied repose of a strong and well-developed man. His bare 
feet rest firmly on the pavement. Behind him the square-set stones of a 
low wall rise nearly to his waist. A white canopy, held by a cord to thin 
wooden pilasters projecting above this wall, forms a light roof above him 
and falls in straight, thin folds behind him. At each side we get a 
glimpse of trees and sky, and the two ends of the hill of the Acropolis jut 
up in the far background, the intermediate outline being very faintly 
defined through the almost transparent linen of the curtain. By means 
of the screening linen partially shutting off the landscape the main part 
of the saint's figure — including the movement of his arms and the 
powerful head — is brought out strongly. His gesture is masterly. The 
right arm is held forward from the elbow, and the strong hand turned 
with the palm up, but inclined slightly downward. The left hand moves 
only so much as it would naturally do in the case of a man expounding 
something — that is, the main intent is thrown into the right hand, and 
the left acts quietly in sympathy with it. This, assisted by the pose of 
the body, the right side of which is advanced more than the other, 
at once gives the idea of the preacher's facing an assembly intent upon his 
words. The colours of his draperies are green and red, and the sleeve of 
the right arm turns back from the wrist. The head, with its sun- 
browned forehead, and stern, thoughtful features, is extremely solemn 
and full of indescribable gravity ; yet through this look there steals 
a subdued smile of pride in the greatness of the subject which the preacher 
has to unfold. 



" The curtain, it must be noted, is not absolutely white, but has the 
efFect of white, so that a burst of light, coming through the lower corner 
at the right, and answering the gleam of white clouds floating across the 
rich, soft blue of the distant heaven, may have its due intensity. This 
subordination of the curtain, however, has a higher object. After one 
has looked for some time at the head without noticing any unusual 
adjunct there begins to dawn from the canvas, just above, a dim halo, as 
if the holiness of the man had but then made itself felt. At first you 
are aware only of the man, but gradually, as his presence possesses you 
more, the halo breaks upon your sight, and you behold the saint. After 
this, the faint, awe-inspiring irradiation docs not again die away, and the 
saint and the man become identical, their attributes remain blended 
before you. It is useless to make any comment on an achievement so 
infinitely refined, so decidedly a spiritualization of art, as this. A purely 
intellectual perception of the relation between the saintly and the human 
has here been expressed in picture, the material substance of the 
pigments being subjected to the thought with a degree of art that is 
beyond praise and strangely original in kind. The invisible halo 
brightening into visibility, and then never dying out, is not the result of 
a trick, but attained by the nicest correlation of parts and balancing of 
values. It comes as the crown of a thoughtful, earnest, patient art, 
directed by a sentiment aesthetically true, but also deeper than the play 
of all aesthetics- resting on religious faith. The artist who could slowly 
lift through all the technical process of painting, this breathing figure 
into life must have had a much more serious purpose to sustain him 
than that merely pictorial aim which has governed most painters since 
Fra Angelico or Albert Diirer, even when they have supposed them- 
selves religious in their tone.'' 

A Madonna and a 4S'/. "John^ parts of a large triptych painted for a 
Catholic church in New York, though not accepted for this position, 
are among the most important of the artist's work. Painted only four 
or five years after the artist's first efforts to express his ideas of colour in 
a personal method of painting, they already show a remarkable sense of 
harmony, with richness and depth of colour equal to his later work. 

About this time Mr. La Farge's scientific interest in the phenomena 
of optics was strengthened by thj acquaintance of Mr. John Bancroft, an 

Bhhop Halto. From the Dra-.uing en Wood. 


artist who, like himself, had felt the fascination of colour analysis. Since 
the discovery of the spectroscope the laws and composition of light have 
been made accessible even to laymen, but thirty-three years ago this was 
not the case : such knowledge could come only from personal study 
and artistic insight. In Mr. La Farge's own words : '' There is in each 
competent artist a sort of unconscious automatic mathematician, who, 
like the harmonist in music, the colourist in painting, resolves in his way 
the problem of sight or sound which the scientist puts into an equation.'' 

....'' Nature, the world of the eye, is always singing to the painter. 
The notes of the prism continue indefinitely, and the painter, or he who 
has his temperament, sees at every moment in the world about him the 
absolute harmony which the other arts obtain by effort. This is why 
the record of nature is the painter's manner of expression." Some of the 
results of these observations are scattered through Mr. La Farge's 

Side by side with scientific interest went artistic production and 
constant study of the appearance of nature. The sketch-books of this 
time are many in number ; they contain first thoughts and careful finished 
studies ; slight, but comprehensive, records of pose and gesture ; rocks and 
sea, plants and animals, imaginative vagaries and ornamental fancies. 

Among the many flowers that he studied, water-lilies had for him an 
especial fascination. In their natural surroundings they afford inter- 
esting problems of the combination of different luminous values which 
make of them almost a grammar of flower-painting. The lotus has 
always been pre-eminently the flower ot the mystic. 

This period of growth in the life of our artist was broken by a severe 
illness in 1866, from which he did not fully recover for several years. 
But during his prolonged convalescence he could not be idle. As an 
amusement, and to divert his mind from suffering, he made drawings on 
wood for magazines and books. Among his very first drawings had 
been illustrations for some of the poems of Robert Browning. These 
have never been published, nor have those made for Longfellow's 
Skeleton in Armour, Among certain illustrations of his in the Riverside 
Magazine may be mentioned The Wolf-charmer^ Bishop Hatto^ "The Giant 
and the Travellers^ The Fisherman and the Genie ^ two of which are here 
reproduced. They were engraved by Mr. Henry Marsh. 


Mr. Lathrop, in his article, has the following appreciative notice of 
the drawing of The IVolf-charmer : — 

" The raison (Titre of his picture lies in the elfish sympathy between 
the intelligent man and the savage beast of prey, conveyed by the 
expression of the charmer's face, and the cautious, soft, malignant tread 
with which he keeps in step to the movement of the wolves. His very 
toes resemble theirs ; he seems to be gnawing his bagpipe." 

Mr. La Farge was justly pleased when, years afterwards in Japan, he 
was shown a copy of this drawing in the studio of a well-known Japanese 
artist, who saluted him as the ** Wolf-Man '' and said : " You must have 
painted that with a Japanese brush " — which was the case. 

To him, however, these drawings were of lesser importance, and he 
now gave his chief study to landscape. While the average public and 
the average painter were not sympathetic, he had the friendly appre- 
ciation of certain contemporaries. Among the artists I may mention 
Winslow Homer, Homer Martin, George Butler ; among the writers 
Emerson, Stedman, Aldrich. Many of the critics were kindly, notably 
Mr. Brownell, who made himself an interpreter of the artist during the 
inevitable period of misconception. What indeed had this innovator, 
with his obstinate conviction that a landscape meant a fragment of nature 
painted as it looked to him — what had he in common with the art then 
in vogue .^ In the eyes of many he sinned against the very canons of 
his craft. Who ever saw violet shadows in nature ? Who cared for a 
little old New England farm-house and a solitary apple-tree standing 
lonely and forlorn in the snow .^ It was of this harmless painting (repro- 
duced on p. 25) that a distinguished member of the Academy of Design 
was heard lamenting " that any one could paint such a low picture ! " 

It is difficult to give by mere description any adequate idea of Mr. 
La Farge's landscapes ; the meagre help of black and white does not 
assist us much. Their chief charm depends on the subtle personality 
of colour, touch, and artistic vision which pervades them. Yet, roughly 
speaking, his work may be described as falling into two classes, repre- 
senting the two principal tendencies of his mind — his reverent accuracy 
of statement, and what may be called his personal spiritual attitude. 
This is well stated bv him in his OyisidcriUions on Piiiuting: ** Through 
this following and pursuit of the tact that each artist sees in his own 






T"/^ W'o^' Ckarmtr. Frsrn tke Dratewg on Wead, 


way, through memories of what he has been, and of what he has liked — 
even when he says to himself, in assertive moments, 'that is the way 
the thing looked ' — we shall come to perceive, perhaps, why it is that this 
faceting of truth must be — how the perpetual Maia, the illusion and 
enchantment of appearances, sings for each of us a new personal song, 
as if she returned our admiration, as if she cared — ^indeed, as if she 

0/J Houie 
From an Oil Painting 

existed — in the way that we say wc know her ; for she takes form in us 
and fits our shapes." 

Thus we find in Mr. La Farge the pre-Raphaelite tendency, based 
on the desire to render the phenomena of nature, as seen by him, 
literally, faithfully, with absolute precision, insisting on the structures 
of the rocks, the characteristic growth of the trees, the look of the 
atmosphere as influenced by the time of day, the direction of the wind, 
the season, the weather. There is also what I should like to call the 
impressionist tendency (if this much-abused word may still be used in 


a wide and comprehensive sense) inspired by the wish to render the 
whole thing, the imaginative essence of the scene. While painting 
conscientiously throughout, from carefully considered under-preparations 
(usually built up from light to dark), he often leaves the corners vague, 
giving a single deep and suggestive impression. His interest in many 
things, his passion for accuracy, his childlike delight in fidelity of 
rendering, have occasionally been so many stumbling-blocks to critics, 
who have not perceived that the experimental bent of mind which has 
carried the artist so far in other directions has induced him to keep as 
mementoes first essays of various kinds, imaginative or technical. 

In the scenery of the island of Newport, made up of undulating land 
traversed by ridges of rocks which enclose flat marshy valleys open to 
the sea, Mr. La Farge has found sufficient inspiration ; it is a place 
that seems an epitome of many others. In parts its lines are wild and 
rugged, magnifying themselves as in the heart of the mountains ; again 
is found gentle beauty of detail in stream and grove. The island has 
swelling uplands dotted over with trees and hedges pleasant and smiling 
to the eye; steep rocks gleaming with light and dropping down into seas 
of delicate beauty ; silvery sands, often with a great surf; long stretches 
of marshy meadow along the shores of the sea ; wind-slanted groves ; 
and here and there, apart from the rest, Michel-angelesqiie trees, lonely, 
rugged, and grand. It has an old harbour full of deep-sea poetry ; an 
old town on a hillside, still redolent of the romrjice of seaport towns ; 
above all it has an atmosphere — an imaginative atmosphere, rare in 
America, and yet distinctly American — a physical atmosphere of singular 
beauty fraught with elements of contrast. Land-winds make everything 
sharp and clear, emphasizing the hard structure of the rocks, the bleak 
New England aspect. Sea-winds bring out the soft, languorous southern 
character of the place, clothing it in veiled radiance, bringing fogs that 
hang in masses (tinged violet at midday) over a sea of sapphire blue 
along the white grass-lined beaches. 

It is not unnatural to suppose that these varied aspects of Newport 
should have influenced the development of the difFcrent sides of the 
artist's treatment of landscapes. Among some of Mr. La Farge's best- 
known landscapes that belong to this tin:c I may mention two of 
Newport scenery. 



^ ^% 






Wir.r> Ko^fs ami Watkb Lii.v. 


Imaginative impressionism is represented in the well-known picture 
owned by Mrs. Thornton Lothrop of Boston, painted in 1868-69. 
This painting, known as New England Meadow Land^ or Paradise 
Valley^ Newport^ is a careful study of hill and dale gently undulating to 
the sea, painted in the full midday light of a slightly veiled midsummer 
sky, a few faint shadows falling away from the spectator. It may 
be regarded as a careful modelling of innumerable values of a few 

The pre-Raphaelite tendency of the artist has deliberately defined 
itself in the painting of the Last Valley (owned by Professor Agassiz of 
Cambridge), executed, like the others, entirely out of doors and belonging 
to the same period. 

Here the foreground and greater part of the picture are in shadow, 
while the latest light of day falls along the upper part of a long rocky 
ridge running off in abrupt perspective. The deep cool shadows in the 
valley below are strongly tinged with blue light. " The underpainting 
of shadows was indeed blue, that of the lights red, and the entire picture 
was all carefully studied in these balances of tone. Only by such a 
method could the work go on indefinitely, with continual additions 
of details, and still remain a simple study of nature.'* In this 
conception of the use of tone colour La Farge was supported against 
much non-comprehension on the part of his contemporaries by the 
precedent of the Japanese, *' in all other respects so truthful and 
accurate." This is what he says of them, writing a year or two later 
(1869) (in a chapter upon Japanese Art, written for the book of his 
friend. Professor R. Pumpelly, Across America and Asia) : *' To 
different origins we shall reasonably look for the causes which have kept 
the Japanese artist to flat tints and boundary lines in drawing, and have 
prevented his pursuing others of nature's appearances, and attempting to 
give the forms of things by the opposition of light and shade, or the 
influence of coloured light. With the harmony which belongs to all 
good art, Japanese works, if they do not solve the latter problem, ofi^er 
at least very successful sketches of such solutions. Their coloured 
prints are most charmingly sensitive to the colouring that makes up the 
appearance of difi^erent times of day, to the relations of colour which 
mark the difl^srent seasons, so that their landscape efi^ects give us, in 


reality, * the place where ' — the illuminated air of the scene of action ; 
and what is that but what we call tone ? Like all true colourists they 
are curious of local colour, and of the values of light and shade ; refining 
upon this, they use the local colours to enhance the sensation of the time, 
and the very colours of the costumes belong to the hour or the season of 
the landscape. Eyes studious of the combinations and oppositions of 
colour — which must form the basis of all such representations — will enjoy 
these exquisite studies, of whose directness and delicacy nothing too 
much can be said in praise." 



Mr. La Farce spent half at least of the year 1873 in a visit to 
Europe. In England he met the painters whose works he had known 
before ; and he exhibited a couple of pictures in London which were well 
received by the reviewers of the day. 

He made the acquaintance of Mr. Sidney Colvin, of Ford Madox 
Brown, of Mr. William Rossetti, and of Sir Edward Burne Jones, among 
others. Of the courtesy and good-will he met he retained a grateful 

On the Continent he met old friends, admired the work of Puvis de 
Chavannes, and studied again the old glass of some of the French 
cathedrals, taking up anew the problems of decoration and mural 
painting, and of their place in architecture. 

The decorative work for both private and public buildings, upon 
which Mr. La Farge is now principally engaged, may be said to have had 
its origin in his early desultory studies of architecture. " In this he had 
the interest of an artist, who found here *a map of all art,' and the 
interest, as well, of a reader of history, a man of literary taste and 
acquirements." Before being called upon to undertake the wall-painting 
and general decoration of Trinity Church, Boston, he had long studied in 
the decorative direction. The two figures of A Madonna and St, John^ 
still in the artist's possession, were parts of a large triptych begun 
in 1862-63 for the altar of a Catholic church. These pictures, though 
not accepted for the positions for which they were intended, are among 
the most beautiful and important of the artist's paintings. After this. 
La Farge gave up for a time the painting of figures, and the hope of 


decorative work, and took to the study of landscape as the more evident 
field of modern painting. In fact, the artist was in advance of the time 
in America — in advance of public taste, for instance, in his sympathy 
with Japanese art ; in advance, too, of the demand for decoration of the 
higher, genuinely aesthetic kind. He had long enjoyed the acquaintance 
of architects, and felt that, with their co-operation, the arts of painting 
and sculpture could regain their former and natural position. This he 
believed true all over the world, but especially in America, where things 
were less defined and jealousies less violent. He was therefore well 
pleased when, in 1865, he had some decorative panels to do for a 
gentleman's dining-room. These, too, never attained their true destina- 
tion, though since exhibited as separate pictures (of fish and flowers) and 
adding greatly to the artist's reputation as a colourist and decorator. In 
1867 ^he architect H. H. Richardson saw these panels and engaged the 
artist to undertake the first decorative work at his disposal. In 1876 
came the opportunity of Trinity Church, in Boston, of which Mr. 
Richardson was the architect.^ 

This building marked a new era in American architecture. The 
question of describing the state of art in America at that moment is too 
difficult and complicated for a brief essay like this. It is suflficient to say 
that little of the immediate past before that moment has any value in art 
— certainly not as original art. 

Mr. Richardson, though trained in the Paris schools, and having even 
practised there according to their methods, turned to new directions some 
while after his return to America. He found something congenial and 
promising in the forms and ideas of the French Southern Romanesque — 
felt perhaps their suggestive incompleteness, their character of ultimate 
, promise. He used them in a free way, and Trinity Church, his first 
great eflx)rt, delights us all the more because we see that it was not quite 
calculated beforehand. It has indeed some of the charm of the imprevu 
of its predecessors in Southern France. 

The secret of unity is sacrifice, and we see here how the architect has 
been driven to make sacrifices to his central idea, the great tower over 
the wide crossing. The nave certainly seems too short, but it is diflficult 
to say to what extent the carrying out of the original plan of simple 

^ G. P. Lathrop in Scribtier's Mijgazirie. 

tU^d of St. J^hn. 
SluJy Jot a Picture in the passessien of the Rev. Cyrus Bdrtel, Boston. 


barrel-vaults over all four arms would have affected all the proportions, 
and particularly the vertical ones. That the original plan is finer there 
is no doubt. The trefoiled ceilings are an obvious and unsatisfactory 
makeshift, particularly awkward and out of style at the sweep of the 
great apse. Then there are concessions that look as if they were only 
meant to be temporary ; this is the case with the gallery and wall that 
block up the nave at the west end. But, in spite of all this, and of 
much poverty of detail — due in large part, doubtless, to the great 
difficulty of the time, when the architects had not at their command 
the trained workmen of to-day — the building has architectural character, 
and much of the interest and dignity that co.iie from a broad and simple 
plan more or less logically carried out. 

Of Mr. La Farge's connection with Richardson's work at Trinity 
the accompanying quotation will give an interesting account. It is 
from a reading of Mr. La F'arge's to a society of young architects (in 
1892), for whose benefit he tried to give an account of personal 
experiences in the use of materials : — 

" Mr. Richardson had made me promise to accept some decorative 
work in the first building that he might control throughout. You know 
that even to-day the architect is only beginning to think of the artist in 
painting as a helper in his scheme. Some provision is made for the 
sculptor, because of necessary carvings of stone or wood. Correspond- 
ingly the artist of that day was chary of being again confounded with 
the workmen from whom he came, thereby losing the social position 
which he acquired by conforming to the ideas about him. Mr. Richard- 
son desired for the Brattle Street Church in Boston an interior painted 
decoration, as important at least as the sculptured work of the large 
exterior band of bas-reliefs. In this painting Mr. George Butler was to 
assist me, but the scheme fell through. Six years later (September, 
1876) Mr. Richardson summoned me to his bedside to say that under 
certain conditions the interior decoration of Trinity Church, Boston, 
which he was then contemplating, might be given to me. By leaving 
large surfaces of wall and roof space quite bare and flat he had made the 
necessity for decoration or decorative treatment by colour. But there 
was little money and little time ; I should have only a few days over 
four months to consider the question, to make drawings and plans, 



obtain estimates, get the decision of the building committee, and carry 
on the work to its end. Moreover, there was no money for suitable 
scaffolding of this big building — the central tower is loo feet high ; 
we should have to employ the scaffolding still in use for the construction 
and the completion of the roof and roof-tiling ; the enormous windows 
might not be filled in until very late in the winter, and the carpenters 
would be putting in their fittings while we were still at work. We had 
thus to face material conditions that were difficult and not devoid of 
personal danger ; and as all the architect's plans and measurements had 
been altered in the course of the work we could not avail ourselves of 
any such usual help to make correct drawings in advance. Sketches 
might help, but drawings must be made as the work went along. 

" Within these conditions, more or less distinctly understood, the 
work was carried on. It was necessary to contract with a decorative 
firm to supply workmen and a competent foreman, for most of the plain 
wall-painting and some part of the plain ornament ; and even their 
work was unsatisfactorily done. The materials of the trades of decoration 
were purposely bad, because, as their chiefs explained to me, the 
fashions in decoration changed every few years, and were helped to 
change by the profitable decay of colours. I had to fight hand to hand 
with commerce ; I had to purchase myself materials of good value or 
high grade, and to employ other and sound methods of applying them, 
devised on the spot. Of the workmen employed I had to retain certain 
individuals who were devoted to me and to my ideas of good work ; and 
finally I had to finish the work with these alone. It was therefore with 
pleasure that I learned from Mr. Richardson some months afterwards 
that he had been told by the head of a prominent firm of decorators 
that * the trade accepted Mr. La Farge's work.' The words imply a 
ridiculous state of things, but they were the earnest of a change for the 

" With the dreamy, yet protective, foresight of artists I had guessed 
at these difficulties, and my choice of general designs met Mr. Richard- 
son's Romanesque building on a common ground of artistic sympathy. 
His chosen form of decoration, the Romanesque of Southern France, 
seemed to me especially suited to the constructive situation. The style 
was indefinite, and yet in relation with classical reasonableness and refine- 


ment. It allowed the artistic veiling of ornament to pass at will from 
horizontal to perpendicular arrangements, and to follow loosely or with 
precision, as best might be, the architect's somewhat accidental surfaces, 
of which I had no exact measurements or plans. It would permit, as 
long ago it had permitted, a wide range of skill and artistic training : the 
rough bungling of the native and the ill-digested culture of the foreigner. 
I could think myself back to a time when I might have employed some 
cheap Byzantine of set habits, some ill-equipped Barbarian, some Roman 
dwelling near by for a time — perhaps even some artist keeping alive both 
the tradition and culture of Greece. In all the heavy prose of the actual 
work these analogies were verified, and I was contented with my choice 
of a scheme that might meet the emergencies of changing subordinates 
and their various aptitudes, as well as the very materials I could use. 

" Richardson supported me usually, but sometimes he exacted con- 
cessions to disguise what he thought his own mistakes, which variations, 
being made to please him, seemed yet to me unsuitable and inadequate ; 
while certain concessions had to be made for merely temporary reasons — 
reasons no longer existing when the work was completed. Our driving 
hurry, increased by the necessity insisted upon by the architect of never 
appearing undecided, might excuse almost anything. Still there were 
many simple points in which for outside reasons one had to yield to the 
architect, whose theories and practice were limited. It will always be 
difficult, for instance, to have a mere architect understand that the placing 
of stained-glass windows in a building must largely modify colour, so 
that a hue which is violent in out-of-door light may become very quiet 
within — as we know, for instance, in the red colours used for painting 

*' I do not believe that you young architects study the use of colours 
in decoration in any strict manner, so that my point of view would not 
be obvious to you as it might have been long ago. But the use of 
colour in architectural decoration, as we can trace it in the older work — 
the Greek, let us say, or even the Pompeian — is not a mere arrangement 
of pleasing tints. It is a manner of construction by colour. 

" Colour represents what the painters call values — surfaces of a certain 
density or stability, to denote either the principal parts of a construction 
or the secondary parts. They are to us somewhat as stones might be to 

c 2 


you : they have the same seriousness of office. You wish a hard or a 
soft-looking stone according to place. . . . Colours are modulations of 
shadows, and therefore are like your mouldings. Colours can be made 
to look hard or soft, to represent plane surfaces or suggest retreating 
ones. You can use them to indicate the difference between a return at 
right angles, or upon a bevel ; and it was *' from no vain nor empty 
thought '* that the Greek coloured the ornaments of his mouldings in 
the manners that you know.^ You will have noticed also in these same 
ancient examples that the proportion and the shape of the colouring 
represent very different manners of surfaces." . . . 

" I have gone into these details to explain more fully how much of a 
change I proposed to make from the habits of previous decoration. I 
have always been impressed by one great quality, never failing in the 
work of the past that we care for. It may be bungling, like some of 
the Romanesque, for instance, or it may be extremely refined like the 
Greek, but it is never like our usual modern work, which suggests 
machinery, that is to say the absence of personality. I knew that our 
work at Trinity would have to be faulty, but this much I was able to 
accomplish — that almost every bit of it would be living, would be 
impossible to duplicate. I was fortunate in having the assistance of five 
or six men whom you know, inexperienced it is true, but artists, and as 
far as possible their hands and mine worked over even the commonest 
details of ornament quite as much as the more pretentious figure paint- 
ing. In fact, I frequently took for myself the passages of ornament 
most often slurred over because of their presumed humility. 

,,..** Thus we may be s:ud to have turned the sharp comer of a 
new path, which of course is the old." . . . ** We had a difHcult time 
of it as you may well suppose. Every physical discomfort was against 
us, and, moreover, there \i-as the necessity of using improvised methods, 
and of employing material made up for the occasion which yet should be 
lasting, and all this in what I may call a frantic hurry. At the end we 
had to work both night and day, and were only able to guess at what 
miijht be the result when the scaffolding should come down."* 

This quotation tells the story sufficiently. The circumstances recall 

^ Compare Mr, Charles Hcnrr'f scicntinc cxr]jna::on of the Greek u>e of blur, 
for in>rar*ce. Rrzi/r Iz*:/rifK*:\:t::r, \>>^. 


conditions under which many of the prototypes of this church were built 
and adorned long ago in mediaeval times. To-day the impressiveness of 
both the building and its artistic adornment is much hurt by an enormous 
ecclesiastical chandelier which contradicts all the lines of composition, and 
hides many important surfaces. The decoration of the nave was most 
thoughtfully, elaborately, and carefully carried out, so as to give greater 
apparent length to this part of the building and remedy somewhat one 
of its main deficiencies. This is all set at naught by filling in the two 
corners at the west end of the nave by huge and unsightly organs, which 
could easily be placed elsewhere. By a kindred mischance, French glass, 
garish and vulgar, and English glass of mediocre quality fill most of 
the windows. Trinity Church is thus an epitome of the contrasts of 
America ; the aspirations and the bad taste, the splendid gifts and the 
wilful neglect, the great opportunities and the marring haste. 

The historic interest of Trinity Church has tempted me to linger 
over the subject, and I have the less space to speak of Mr. La Farge's 
later decorative work. 

His work at Trinity Church was but just finished when Mr. La 
Farge was asked to decorate St. Thomases in New York City ; this work 
he carried out during the summer and autumn of the year 1877. I 
quote again Mr. Lathrop : 

" Here, in two compositions somewhat disturbed by the pentagonal 
Jine of the apsis, he has depicted with great beauty two scenes from the 
Resurrection ; the first, on the left hand, is founded on the account in 
St. Matthew, where the keepers ' did shake, and became as dead men,' on 
the appearance of the angel at the sepulchre. The introduction of a 
sarcophagus, instead of the rock-tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, though 
not without precedent, is, perhaps, something to be questioned ; but that 
the artist has infused into his whole imagining the solemnity, the won- 
drous ' fear and great joy ' of the touching story, this can hardly be 
questioned by any one possessing a spontaneous yet trained perception. 
An absence of sophistication, a primitive reverence, makes itself felt in 
all parts. Who can fail to see that the religious awe of the situation 
finds an echo in the very foliage of the light wood, and in the white 
gleam of dawn at the pathway's end ^. A reredos in alto relievo, modelled 
by St. Gaudens, intervening between this and the other picture, brings 


groups of kneeling angels, rank on rank, supporting the cross, to carry 
out the prevalent mood of the painter's compositions. The second 
fresco refers to the last chapter of Luke, where the three Maries meet 
the two angels. The management of the colour in this piece is bolder 
and more stirring than in the other, as befits the supernatural episode. 
How fine that rolling gloom of darkly mingled tints, in the falling land 
of the background ! Both, viewed from the places of the congregation, 
seem to float oflT into an atmosphere of the visionary and unapproachable, 
tinged with some ray of divination, going beyond the real, yet arresting the 
real aspect, also, and fixing it in a dimly luminous beauty. A word must 
here be added concerning the enframing ornament, the pilasters, and the 
cornice above, all of which were devised by the artist to create a suitable 
environment. A scroll pattern, superbly coloured and completed by 
means of iridescent pearly shell, let into the wood in bits, is one element 
of this decoration which, so far as is known to the present writer, has not 
been used elsewhere. By painting over the chancel windows, Mr. La 
Farge has gained still another tributary splendour for his ensemble. One 
must be grateful to the artist who brings the earthly sense of beauty into 
sweet and pathetic accord with heavenly aspirations, as it has been 
done here. 

" It is an interesting fact that a painter who is not yet reckoned 
among our older artists was really one of the first to lead in the new 
path which art is taking in America. Our young men come back from 
Munich and Paris, and find an artist at home who has long been painting 
in what is popularly called * the new style.' He was, moreover, not 
only, as already stated, the first of our artists of marked ability to exe- 
cute religious paintings for the walls of our churches, but he was the 
first who brought to bear a true artistic taste and handling upon every 
detail of architectural decoration. Mention has been made of this phase 
of his work in Trinity Church. In the work upon the chancel of 
St. Thomas's, not only is the design the leading artist's, but so also is 
a great portion of the execution, even to a part of the carving. All 
the architectural mouldings and the entire woodwork were done from 
Mr. La Farge's drawings and under his eye, and some of it by his own 
hands. So genuine, indeed, has been the spirit in which he has carried 
on his decorative work, that it is evidently no mere wave of imitation 



coming over from France or England ; but it manifests to the European 
student of modern art not only an original and individual sentiment, but 
points of absolute novelty." 

It is to be regretted that the entire design was never completed; 
apparently from want of money. There are yet wanting the pillars 

bracketed out from the wall which were to stand on either side of the 
central bas-relief and to frame the Bishop's chair. The crowning cornice 
of the wall decoration was never carried out. Thus the two principal 
features of the architectural motive are absent, and notwithstanding the 
success of the work as It stands at present, it is to be supposed that the 
artist must consider It far from what he had proposed to himself. 


The year during which these paintings and decorations were carried 
out was an extremely busy one in other ways. Mr. La Farge had begun 
to consider very seriously the problems of work in glass which ended by 
absorbing all his attention. So that other decorative work was more or 
less abandoned, except in a few cases where there was a necessity for 
undertaking both together. I have devoted the whole of the next 
chapter to his more especial achievement in glass. This represents fully 
ten years of study and continuous efFort that have resulted in the creation 
of a new art. 

It must' have cost the painter in Mr. La Farge no little sorrow to 
abandon, even in part, the practice of the thing that he cared for most. 
He must have realised how difficult it would be to take it up again after 
long disuse, because success in the technicalities of painting is so closely 
dependent upon constant execution. Yet any painting might have 
seemed to him a mode of relaxation and amusement. 

With Mr. La Farge's decorative work at this time, about 1878, I 
am not fully acquainted. At Portland, Maine, there is a small church 
which he decorated, as I understand, very simply. There is also the 
Congregational Church in Newport, Rhode Island, the interior of which 
he painted, paying great attention to a local feeling which opposed 
ecclesiastical adornments ; so that the artistic problem there carried out 
was that of giving a church effect without recalling any traditional 
motives or symbolism. As a labour of love Mr. La Farge filled all the 
windows with glass of finest quality of material. These beautiful 
windows were injured during the great hail-storm of August, 1894. 
Their patching by some village practitioner now presents a curious 
analogy to the cheap repairs in ancient cathedrals of Europe ; a likeness 
all the more striking because of the enormous wealth and luxury of this 
centre of American society. 

For Newport also, and at the same time, Mr. La Farge built the 
little sepulchral monument of which I give a picture. It was an attempt 
at carrying out certain special desires, and is in that way very far removed 
from the usual conventions. It was most carefully followed out by Mr. 
La Farge, and by his friend, Mr. St. Gaudens, the sculptor, who devoted 
to this very personal creation the extreme refinement and exquisite mastery 
that have since made him famous. 

Tht Arrival ej the Magi, 
nel of the Puiniing in the Church of the Incarnation, New Tori, 


The decoration of the interior of the so-called Brick Church in New 
York in 1882, is planned just from the opposite point of that one fol- 
lowed in the little Newport church. The problem was to so alter a 
formal and unchurchlike hall, as to emphasise most distinctly its being 
intended for Christian service, and to do this upon the spaces of the 
existing architectural decoration. 

Here again, long after the work was done, the colour of the walls 
has been changed, destroying entirely the colour relations established by 
the artist, which were meant to give both solemnity and an abundance 
of light. 

In the chancel of the Church of the Incarnation, Mr. La Farge 
painted two large panels which are placed in the decoration designed 
and carried out by his son, Mr. C. Grant La Farge, the architect, and 
Mr. George L. Heins, his partner. These paintings are taken from 
sections of the design which Mr. La Farge had made years before for 
the chancel of Trinity Church, Boston, and were painted during the 
autumn of 1885. The right hand panel is given on page 41. The 
subject is the Arrival of the Wise Men from the East. 

In America, as elsewhere to-day, it is rare to find the authority and 
lustre of a great artistic name and the charm of the highest culture 
contributing to the adornment of private life. Besides the glass of 
many houses, Mr. La Farge has also done work on the walls and ceilings 
of some residences. Of these I know only a few cases, notably the 
decoration of certain rooms and galleries in the great house of Mr. 
Cornelius Vanderbilt. Of some of the glass I shall speak further on. 
Some changes to be mentioned later make it difficult to describe the work 
in full. Besides decorative glass of varied designs in every window, there 
were whole sets of embroideries executed under the artist's supervision 
and from his designs by assistants expressly trained by him. The 
vaulted ceiling of a small gallery bore the subjects dear to painters, — 
Night and Day, and the Seasons. There was also the carved and inlaid 
woodwork of the great dining-room, and the inlaid panels and mouldings 
of its ceilings, remarkable for the combination of Eastern craftsmanship 
and Western motives resumed in an entirely personal rendering. Their 
subjects are classical. Four of the figure subjects (one of which is given 


on the opposite page), are nearly life-size. The settings are mouldings of 
carved wood and hand-wrought bronzes of precious alloys made from the 
recipes brought from Japan by the artistes friend Mr. Raphael Pumpelly. 

The ground of the panels is of red mahogany ; the inlays are ivory, 
pear-wood, Sienna marbles, soft green serpentine, silver, mother-of-pearl, 
and coral, and hammered bronzes of various Japanese alloys. The 
language of the decoration, if I may say so, is thus Japanese ; but in a 
paraphrase as untrammelled and free as the accompanying use of classical 
themes ; yet it is less of the Renaissance in style than in spirit and 
character. Notwithstanding the extraordinary richness of the materials 
the effect is sober and peaceful like that of the Japanese inlaid lacquers 
and woods, — Mr. La Farge's special love and study. To-day most of 
this work has been scattered about the building, and is set in other 
surroundings and much spoiled by the mechanical alterations and additions 
of others. 

In 1887, Mr. La Farge took up painting again, and on his return 
from a visit to Japan he painted the large altar-piece or end wall in the 
Church of the Ascension (New York). The studies for the landscape 
of this great work were made in Japan ; and indeed it is as decidedly a 
landscape as a figure subject. This will be seen in the photograph that 
we reproduce on page 47. Mere black and white can give but a 
faint notion of the wonderful harmony and spiritual suggestion of the 
colour. Our illustration, however, will indicate the composition and the 
arrangement of lines and masses. These main lines in the landscape have 
been filled in with subtleties of nature, with the rendering of as many 
facts as might give the illusion of a well-remembered scene. Within 
this simulated reality, giving the appearance of unpremeditated record, 
is placed the story. Here the traditional arrangement is insisted upon, 
and the masses of light and dark are made to emphasise the convention ; 
while in the details the artist has trusted to his power of expressing 
emotion naturally. It is this touch of the unexpected and yet truly 
human, that gives such charm to many of Mr. La Farge's works. Wit- 

1 These four panels, the subjects being Ceres, Pomona, Bacchus and Vertumnus, 
were modelled by Mr. St. Gaudens, as only he could have done them, from Mr. 
La Farge's designs. 

Cart-ed r.iid inLid Panel in Din 

1 of the Heuse ofCernehai Vmderhilt, Esq,, Nttc rsrk. 


ness the sentiment and attitude of the mother of our Lord stretching out 
her hands in farewell and longing. Our imagination is no less appealed 
to by the glcr/ or halo of angels who emerge from the clouds of the 
landscape, clothed in similar iridescent tones, as if, however real at the 
moment, they might again be resolved into moist air and dewy distance. 

Th- AH-otsion. 
Painting in ih Chancel of ih Chunh of th Aaenshn. N.zv }'ork. 

symbols, as it were, of the glorifying of Christ by Nature. 

This painting has made a profound impression upon the religious 
and artistic public, and is perhaps the artist's most important work. 

Notwithstanding the long studies which preceded its execution it 
must have been most rapidly painted, for within this same year, besides 
many smaller things, most important glass work and other decoration. 


Mr, La Farge painted also the two very large pictures each twenty feet 
long, in Mr. Whitelaw Reid's music-room, one of which is here repro- 
duced. The subjects were Music and The Drama — treated, as a critic 
has remarked, " like a garden masquerade." 

I do not know of any other decorative painting by him done between 
1888 and the present year. This year Mr. La Farge begins the 
decoration of the chancel in the great basilica of the Paulist Fathers in 
New York. The wall surfaces are very large, and the space devoted to 
figure-painting alone will make a panel nearly a hundred feet long by 
over thirty feet high. There will be five windows (twenty-six feet high) 
and above a large half dome. For the colouring and distribution of 
lines in this church Mr, La Farge made a scheme some years ago. 
Wherever it has been carried out the result has been of great dignity, 
but the church is marred by ugly additions, especially in the side-chapels, 
apparently the gifts of parishioners forced upon a suffering public. Still 
it is to be hoped that art of the importance of Mr. La Farge's may 
redeem the vulgarity of other things, and pwrhaps set the key for great 

Mviit. From a P,iinling ia tke Rtiidence ef the Ihn. H'Ulekta Reid, Kew 1'i.rk. 



I HAVE thought it best, for motives of convenience, to treat Mr, 
La Farge's glass in a separate chapter. The preceding chapters will 
have shown that it is not to he thought of as disconnected from the rest 
of his work. It was born of practical needs, and is only a carrying into 
other fields of the principles, ideals, and preferences that have guided 
and informed all his other work. 

About twenty years ago, when this artist of genius began to turn his 
attention to improving the state of decorative art in America, he found 
that if he wished to include windows in his scheme, he must give his 
personal attention to the making of their material from the beginning. 
By working with his own hands, like the artist of an older day, and by 
means of many patient experiments, carried out in pursuance of a logical 
plan, and not merely the result of chance, he succeeded in re-discovering 
certain processes, and inventing others in which his unequalled power as 
a colourist found full expression. His earliest efforts were entirely 
successful, and his first windows as good as anything he has done since. 
If novelty in methods of art allows the artist to carry out more 
thoroughly the principles that underlie his art, then that novelty is a 
laudable one, it is an improvement, because at the same time that it is 
new it keeps, or should keep, what is best of the old. A certain 
resemblance to ancient art, as well as extreme novelty in his work 
disconcerted many people, but soon it was recognised and admired, and 
at once imitated by every worker in glass ; so much so that there has 
not been an important example of this art produced by others since he 
began to work which does not, consciously or unconsciously, derive much 



of its merit from inspirations and processes which he originated. To 
use the words of the artists who judged the window which he exhibited 
at the French Exhibition of 1889, and for which he was given the Legion 
of Honour : 

** His work cannot be fully gauged here, where a single window 
represents a name the most celebrated and widely known in our Sister- 
Republic. He is the great innovator, the inventor of opaline glass. 
He has created in all its details an art unknown before, an entirely new 
industry, and in a country without traditions, he will begin one followed 
by thousands of pupils filled with the same respect for him that we have 
ourselves for our own masters. To share in this respect is the highest 
praise that we can give to this great artist." {Reports of the International 
Jury of the Exhibition of \%i^. Group III, page 179.) 

The history of the difficulties and circumstances that led to the 
invention is best given in the artist-workman's own words ; I shall make 
use in part of a statement prepared at the request of Mr. S. Bing of 
Paris, for his report to the French Government in 1893, since it is an 
advantage to listen to workmen whenever we can get them to talk about 
their own work. 

.... *'.It was only in 1872, during a trip to Europe, that I 
thought much again of the question of decoration, that is to say, in 
so far as returning to its practice. I had naturally taken a great 
interest, both in early days and up to that date, in the English pre- 
Raphaelitc school begun by Ford Madox Brown and Rossetti, and at 
that time (in 1873) distinguished by Mr. Burne Jones. I saw then 
something of their work and their methods in stained glass, and the 
ancient Mediaeval glass again became a subject of interest. I happened 
on my return home to be asked by an architect for the design of a 
stained glass window. I thought that I had noticed in 1873, in the 
work of the English artists in stained glass, that they seemed to have 
come to the end of their rope, and that their work in glass had ceased 
improving ; and it seemed to me that the cause of this was mainly 
because the designers had become separated from the men who made 
the actual windows. I do not mean separated in sympathy, but that 
they no longer followed the mechanism now that they had learned it, 
and consequently that whatever they did was only expressed in the 


manner that had first been used for their designs. Moreover, they made 
designs for the drawing, not for the result, thus giving beautiful designs 
and poorer results. It occurred to me that if I made a design for 
stained glass to be carried out in this country, I should follow the entire 
manufacture, selecting the colours myself, and watching every detail. . . . 
I attempted then to carry out the first design which suited the architect 
— and I found at once that the most ordinary English methods were all 
that were known, and that they were carried out in a vastly inferior 
manner. There were no good painters on glass, even of a fairly low 
degree, and the choice of glass was extremely limited. We received here 
only the poorer and less artistic samples of material, the better being 
carefully culled by the good European workers, and, moreover, as all 
importations were commercial, they were made, as they are always made, 
to appeal to the largest and widest mediocrity of taste. 

'' I had struggled with the making of my window, hoping by in- 
genious balances of tones and colour to meet this question of a small 
range of colours and material, and also by what is called 'plating/ that 
is to say, placing one glass upon another, so as to enrich my stock of 
tones. The results were not successful to my mind, though they were 
enough to interest me, and to make me believe that a good deal could 
be done by two factors the one a very careful designing of the leads 
which link the glass together, so that the general pattern involved a 
handsome arrangement of lead lines ; the other factor, the use of com- 
plementary colour contrast, through which contrast the shadows and 
half tones and modelling of the figure and background were to be 
obtained, increased in range by this system of 'plating' or 'double' 
glasses. All this I had tried to use in my window, thereby obtaining 
a certain character, but the difficulty of proper painting to supply 
gradation in the glass limited me at the very moment when I tried to 
get away from the very baldest methods of pictorial effect. I had 
abandoned the matter for a time, when the late H. H. Richardson, the 
great architect, came to me with a project for painting Trinity Church, 
in Boston, which he had just built. I had, to make all the designs and 
carry out the execution of the decoration of this very big church, only 
four months. As Mr. Richardson was a friend, and believed in me, and 
hoped for something new from me, I undertook the work and carried it 

D 2 


out upon novel lines, all of which new directions, however, I believed to 
be intimately connected with past work. Only the old methods would 
have been too inferior in every particular, because of the extraordinary 
want of time, because of having no trained workmen, and no trained 
artists to assist me. . . . Though I knew beforehand that I must be 
dissatisfied with the result, I was comforted with the portion of success 
which I attained, and by the feeling that the proper way to do work was 
to make it meet the necessities of the country, and, if necessary, to 
invent such methods as would be needed. If others were used they 
would be necessarily inferior to European work, because, all the way 
from the higher designs to the last workman, we would be on a lower 
level, incapable of comparison with the higher. I made also for this 
church a certain number of designs for glass in the uppermost windows 
(a height of eighty feet), designs that I thought could be carried out 
fairly well, because at that height mere general lines and masses might be 
used, and the problem would so come more to a certain resemblance to 
Mediaeval work. I tried also, by painting a Grisaille window, to see 
what effect methods of using mere varying opacities of paint in lines of 
different sizes might secure, but I had not any distinct wish to go on 

with glass 

*' During the same year which had seen me busy with Trinity, I was 
ill, and during my illness, amused myself by combining various tones of 
glass by plating. My mind reverted again to the poverty of the 
material itself as furnished us, when looking at some toilet articles 
made of what is called * opal glass ' in imitation of china, I noticed the 
beauty of quality which accompanied this fabric. I mean only in the 
unsuccessful pieces which alone are opalescent. I also saw that when 
alongside of coloured glass (what we call * pot-metal ' ^ or the usual 
stained glass), the opalescent quality brought out a certain harmony 

1 . . . "Glass which is coloured in its body while molten is called pot-metal : and 
it is to this division especially that the words 'stained glass ' are inaccurately applied in 
ordinary phrase. The expression 'stained glass/ which is usqd for all kinds of coloured 
glass, when used exactly, is of extremely limited application. It refers to a transparent 
colour which is fastened to the surface of glass by the action of heat. It will be well 
for the inexperienced reader to remember that 'painted glass' means glass that has 
paints made of enamels fused to the surface of the glass by means of heat, whether 
that glass be coloured in its substance, or relatively white." 

V a 

The Infant Samuel 

Colour Sketch far part of Window in the Jadson Memorial Church 

New York 


due to its suggestion of complementary colour ; that mysterious quality 
it has of showing a golden yellow, associated with violet ; a pink flush 
brought out on ground of green. It seemed to me that all that was 
necessary to obtain the density which we made by painting, and at the 
same time be always within reach of a colour harmony, would be the 
having material of this kind, made first without colour aid, and then 
with variations of colour. Moreover, the infinite variety of modulations 
possible in glass of similar makes to the opal allowed a degree of light 
and shade for each piece of glass which not only would give modelling, 
but also increase the depth of tone sufficiently at places, to make the 
darker parts melt softly into the harsh lead line that binds each piece. 
As soon as I was out of bed, I bought a quantity of objects made in 
this opal glass with the idea of cutting out from them various pieces and 
trying them in ordinary windows. By chance some person asked me 
to design a window. This I carried out and then I amused myself by 
replacing certain ones of the patterns that had the ordinary pot-metal, 
with these pieces of opal cut from the various boxes and such like. 
The effisct of a contrast of solidity with relative thinness, and the play 
of complementary tone suggested by the opal alongside of the other 
colours was so pleasant that I felt convinced that here was a possible 
new departure which would at least give me a handsome material 
irrespective of what I hoped for beyond. ... I then began to work 
glass on a very small scale with a single workman in the same studio 
where I painted. I had noticed the difference of facility in the way of 
cutting the different shapes of glass, and how much this was affected 
by the materials, their density, their irregularity of construction, and 
their surfaces. I felt all the more like carrying out the making of opal 
glass in different tones for use in windows. ... I found a glassmaker, 
who was willing to try with me, at my expense, and all our first 
experiments were more or less successful. Within a few weeks I 
managed to get enough variations to justify me in accepting the making 
of a large window for a private house. ... I used in this first window 
(and I have continued more or less in windows of mere ornament, as this 
was), whatever glass I could find of any manufacture whatever, English, 
Belgian, or American, opalescent or non-opalescent. The contrasts of 
density and transparency have always been very interesting to me, and 


in this first window the basis of my idea was in a large way the recall of 
the inlays of precious stones that are set in jade by Eastern artists. I 
should add, before going further, that previous to these experiments in 
making opalescent glass of different hues and qualities of structures, I 
had imported such best English glass as I could get. Had I been able 
to get what I knew existed, that is to say, glass of fine tone, and with 
some modulations of colour, I might have delayed, but the whole basis 
of importation was so strictly commercial that I was quite unsatisfied. 
Using these combinations of opalescent and non-opalescent glass, I 
accepted some more orders for different varieties of windows (many for 
houses) and of very different character, and I entered into an arrange- 
ment with Herter and Company to make all their glass, an arrangement 
which lasted several years; until 1882, I think. Immediately I had 
begun making memorial windows for large buildings, churches, and 
others. In 1878 I had undertaken one of the most important windows 
I have ever carried out, the so-called Battle window, a memorial of one 
of the classes of Harvard College, now in the Memorial Hall, Cam- 
bridge, Massachusetts. In this window I used almost every variety of 
glass that could serve, and even precious stones, such as amethysts and 
the like, and I began to represent effects of light and modulation of 
shadow by using streaked glass, glass of several colours blended, and 
glass wrinkled into forms, as well as glass cut into shapes, or blown into 
forms. I also painted the glass very much and carefully in certain 
places ; so that in a rough way this window is an epitome of all the 
varieties of glass that I have seen used before or since. There was even 
glass into which other glass had been deposited in patterns, a beautiful 
form of material which has never been fully developed for these uses to 
my knowledge. The only method which I did not employ was one 
that I began shortly after, and which was the use of glass, fused together 
in patterns without leads, a method which, not being encouraged 
I have used very little, though that also is susceptible of enormous 
development. Nor did I use in this window another method which 
I have since used in connection with glass cut into patterns and fused 
together, and that is a sort of variation of cloisonne made through 
joining glass by thin filaments of metal fused to the glass and plated on 
both sides with different surfaces of glass adhering. By it I have been 



able to model faces in much detail, bringing pieces together so small, 
that many of them could be placed on the nail of the little finger, and 
several thousand could be joined together in a surface less than a foot 
square. The method being costly, and necessitating personal control of 

■Th Old PHhispUr. 
nnd Chiienne QUn WindoK in lh( 
■c Memorial Library, Quiiuy, Man. 

the furnace, 1 was obliged to abandon it almost entirely,- all the more 
because of an indifference of both the architects and the public ; 
moreover, to any one designing himself in great detail, or seeing designs 
executed and carried out in the methods which I have adopted, it 


became more and more difficult to be at the glass-house or direct and 
superintend the making of material." 

The preceding extracts will have shown how the invention and perfec- 
ting of this new method of art was simply forced upon the artist by 
circumstances, as soon as he began to think seriously about decoration. 
To what he says about the poverty of material imported and the 
inferiority of workmanship available at the time, I must add, that 
English glass must be very good indeed not to look anaemic in the strong 
American light. 

American glass has indeed one serious drawback; it makes terrible 
demands on the man that touches it. Like the violin it can only be 
handled by artists. But unfortunately eyes are not so susceptible to the 
difference between discord and harmony as ears. This is especially 
noticeable in American windows, as all Europeans can bear witness who 
have puzzled over the enormous difference in their quality. Some of it 
can bear comparison with the best mediaeval glass work, much of it is 
as poor and vulgar as a cheap tune played carelessly on the piano, while 
some of the unpretentious ornamental glass shows real sense of colour 
harmony. It seems inconceivable that all this can exist side by side, that 
people do not feel the discord. As I am writing of the La Farge glass, I 
can leave all further comparisons aside, and go on detailing the steps by 
which the La Farge invention was made into the splendid instrument 
that we now know. 

One of the great privileges of my life has been the opportunity kindly 
accorded me of watching some of the processes of the workshop. My 
account of this work is thus founded on a basis of personal observation. 

In some respects these mechanical methods are the same to-day 
as they were in the early middle ages. In this modern workshop pre- 
paratory sketches and studies are made, some in colour, and others in 
black and white or pencil. Whatever the design, whether a Bible story 
full of meaning, or a mere ornamental pattern, from these drawings are 
determined the shapes of the cutting of the glass, and they must there- 
fore be well considered from this point of view, with an amount of care 
which no outsider can gauge. Since the work that is to follow is based 
on them, their manner of preparation must have many considerations, not 


only in the necessary selection of line for composition and arrangement of 
structure for the leading, but also for the complicated questions of 
irradiation ^ and complementary colour contrast. The problem resembles 
the questions of construction in architecture which are an integral part of 
the architect's decorative design. 

" Usually the drawings or cartoons, that is to say, the drawings made 
by artists for their windows, look so much better than the windows when 
we see them reproduced in the magazines. This is the converse of what 
ought to be ; it is as if the written score should have more sound than 
the music played from it, the pencil sketch be richer, more full of 
material and wealth of execution than the finished picture. But this we 
must recognise as a general failure of modern decorative work. The 
design, the sketch, the cartoon is always better than the completed work. 
It is again in great part the result of commercial habits. The sketch is 
made to sell from or to exhibit. The work may take care of itself. 
One of the good things of our American materials and of their methods 
of use, is that it is more difficult to make a pretty drawing for the client, 
because of the evident inadequacy of the drawing to represent the richness 
of the material in which the completed work is to be carried out. Nor 
could any of our drawings, nor even an elaborate painting represent the 
delicate relations of tone given by the American material. A window of 
the kind that we have inaugurated may be almost colourless in so far that 
it may be all white and grey. But we can produce such varieties of 
whites and greys, so many contrasts of dulness and brilliancy, such 
suggestions of colour as white mother-of-pearl, that we can go as far 
in delicacy as we can in power.'' 

From these studies are prepared full -sized cartoons, often in colour, 

^ Some of my readers will know all that I refer to ; others may be helped by 
such an explanation as I attempt to make. In decoration by glass, whether painted 
or not, we meet with a well-known phenomenon, less known, less visible to the 
painter who paints pictures on canvas or walls. The artist who uses a piece of blue 
glass, for instance, where the painter in oil uses a touch or more of blue paint, will 
find his piece of blue glass change its size and shape at a distance, as the opaque 
colour would not. If he uses other colours, their shapes and sizes, their distinctness 
and their tones, are all modified by distance. Naturally, too, placed alongside of each 
other, they not only change in themselves, but they change the appearance of their 


giving a careful indication of the values in light and dark ; and a com- 
plete set of enlarged lead lines. From these lead lines are made two 
transfers on paper and otie tracing on glass. This is the so-called 
"glass frame" which fs set up in the wall against the direct light from 
outside. Meanwhile one of the paper transfers has been cut up into 
pieces representing the shapes of the pieces of glass. They are carefully 
numbered and put together again on the waM. 

The work, in glass now begins. Consulting his colour sketch, the 
artist decides what passages of colour are to strike the keynote of the 
harmony, has his glass cut from the corresponding pieces of paper patterns, 
fastens the pieces of glass to the glass frame by wax, and then proceeds to 

Glass Winilow in the Scctnd Presijierinn 

build his whole scheme of colour on this beginning. The work is thus 
from the outset a transposition, a painting with glass by an artist in glass. 
The occasional slightness of the colour sketch is a first thing that strikes 
the layman ; a thin wash of yellow running into purple is enough to 
indicate a rich drapery of glowing orange with long lines of purple 
trembling in the shadow of the folds ; pale green is translated into a rich 
opalescence of green and silver and gold, blue into deep modulated 
sapphire and violet. The slighter the sketch, the better may be 
the result. There can be no rule. The very incompleteness and 
suggestiveness of a sketch is sometimes a source of inspiration to the 


Contrariwise it may be that the complete intention of the design has 
to be made out by many subsidiary cartoons and paintings. That is the 
fortune of war. " It is then necessary that the artist in charge should be 
a trained painter accustomed to make many supplementary studies, 
and the increased work will not seem to him many times more than 
that which he would give to painting in other materials, such as oil 

Occasionally the colour sketch only serves as a starting point, as 
a general indication of what the artist meant. The basis of the harmony 
of a colour-scheme is usually determined by the first chord struck. As 
this is necessarily much fuller and richer than anything that can be 
produced by pigment on paper, so the whole harmony aimed at is 
transposed into a richer and fuller key. From the commencement the 
artist and his skilful workman labour together, selecting at first the 
principal masses, as much in the primaries as seems feasible, until a basis 
of the whole composition is chosen for the first joining by leads. In this 
first selection there may be a great number of changes made, with a 
certain amount of plating, as the different masses come together, but 
simplicity is aimed at, as in an under-painting on canvas. 

The window is now taken down in sections and leaded together on 
the bench over the second drawing referred to above. Again it is put in 
the light, and now by means of '^ platings,'' ^ to modify tones and bring 
passages together, it is rchandled and completed. Our illustration shows 
a window in this state, before the final leading ; that is to say, the joining 
of all these pieces of glass together by a lead ribbon with flanges. The 
whole work is thus the result of the most intimate collaboration between 
the brain of the artist and the skilled hand and trained senses of the 

Painting with enamel in the ordinary way u^on the glass has thus 
been dispensed with by painting with glass. The work has become a 
form of translucent mosaic held together by lead instead of cement as in 
mosaic. But the hands, heads, and faces of figures are usually painted 
upon the glass. 

^ Plating means the placing of one piece of glass upon another of the same shape 
so as to vary its colour or its depth, or the variation of modelling. 


First of all reasons, it is because in them expression, an element of 
design and not of colour, must always be the principal aim. 

"However," says Mr. La Farge, "in the anxiety for a thoroughly 
logical system of doing without any painting, a method was invented by 
me of joining glass without lead, by melting, or of joining exceedingly 
minute divisions of glass, small as those cut by the jeweller, with threads 
of finer metal, so that these should become almost invisible at a distance. 
But the costliness of the process and the great risk involved in firing, 
with the then rude appliances of the American workshop, prevented this 
method from going further than a few examples. The architects also, 
and clients, had not enough experience and knowledge to appreciate such 
a refinement, and there still remains an entire division of this great art of 
glass to be explored." 

These tendencies to logical results, however, have never prevented 
Mr. La Farge's use of enamel painting upon all or any surfaces for 
certain windows, just as the same might have been employed at any 
previous time. The large windows of Trinity Church, which I shall 
notice presently, are so painted, as are also the Harvard memorials and 
the Vanderbilt staircase windows. 

We can see that the demand upon the foreman or executant is great. 
" If I have explained what has been done and what can be done in 
glass, the coming men will require, not only to know the art of the past, 
down to its ornamentation, but they will have to undertake the solution, 
along with the new painters, of all the new problems of light and colour, 
or else, if that be too much for them, to restudy carefully the methods 
of the past. 

" My idea of encouragement, as I said before, is that of placing great 
responsibilities on those who are worthy. It is true that a powerful 
artist will be able to employ, as he has always done, capacities covering 
smaller fields than his own ; and in such aggregations of capacities will 
lie the development of the art. This is not to say that the less ambitious 
forms of decorative art will not be open to all sincere workers ; the great 
point being that the limitations should be distinctly understood. One of 
the lessons taught us every day by Oriental art, especially by the art of 
Japan, is that there is a place for every one in art, provided that he keeps 
entirely within his capacities and his knowledge. The humble Japanese 



artist who copies with love and intelligence the design of the better 
designer is irreproachable. It would only be in assuming that because he 
could execute he could also invent that he would fail. Hence the great 
charm of such work as the Italian workers in pottery carried on in 

Masaic Gki! Ifm^ow. JiKih and preiud Glais, Misau Glasi Doorligit. 

la the Rtudemi rf W. H. fandtrtili, Ei^. In tkc Rfsidtme ef D. 0. Milli, Esq. 

imitation, sometimes in actual copy, of the work of the greater designers. 
They naturally translated the design in the course of its application ta 
new materials, and the result was original creation," 

" . . .In our work here, if nothing else had been accomplished, I 


for one should feel pleased that certain artisans have been trained, owing 
to the difficult requirements of the profes^on, to a point of capacity and 
interest in artistic work that makes them artists without their losing the 
character of the workman. Of this the public can know nothing ; they 
hear only of the artist in control. Yet the foreman answers a require- 
ment as serious as any that are met by the foremost painter of to-day, 
when his sure grasp of the principles of colour and design allows him not 
only to interpret a faint sketch so as to arrange its colour in proper 
harmonies,^ but also to use the theory of complementary colour contrast 
for the modelling of surfaces, for the differences of planes, for making any 

Mosaic Glaii Wiiidote. Ordinary viori, simple cutting. 

part of the design recede or advance. And that there are such artisans 
with us, who have been formed out of nothing, and with no previous 
education, is the best hope of possible advancement." 

Of necessity the designing and making of windows of mere ornament 
has occupied a great part of Mr. Li Farge's practice. Their number 
can be counted in thousands, from the simplest arrangement of lines and 
spaces to the most careful designs in arabesque or semi-naturalistic flower 

' [n writing this I am thinking of Mr. Thomas Wright, of the New York 
Decorative Stained Glass Company, in Washington Square, who has no equal in the 
management of colour in glass. 



Many of those placed in churches have been made to fill temporarily 
the openings ; until richer work, often memorials, could replace them. 
They are none the less interesting. 

The very plain windows executed by Mr. La Farge, or under his 

direction, have elements of a beauty which can only co-exist with extreme 
simplicity. They are interesting also in the use of expedients to solve 
, the problem of economy that is constantly presenting itself. Conven- 
tional forms that can be cut more easily are of course more economical 



than irregular ones which need particular skill and care in the cutting of 
each piece. Now the need for economy in unimportant places and in 
windows where cost has to be specially considered, is very great in the 
case of the La Farge glass, from the necessary costliness of the processes 
and materials. 

Herein the make of the glass invented by Mr. La Farge plays itself 

■ Gtasi Window. Prtiud and dropped Glass. 

an important part. The density, the richness, or exquisiteness of 
material gives to plain spaces an interest of their own. We are reminded 
of the charm that Oriental work has in its use of large surfaces of colour 
bordered or broken by refined ornament. 

It is essential to the right comprehension of American glass to under- 
stand that it has grown out of and educated a real demand : the demand 
for memorial windows in the many churches of the cities and towns of 


Meitik GJ.1I1 IS'i/iJiw ill ihi Rc-jU.iiu of Cirr.ihiis I'-inJirii/l, Biq., ■* 

Nem Tork. 



AttirricH, u (Icriiand that ih felt by those who can afford to spend a small 
ttiirii for 14 memorial, a« well as by those who can afford an almost 
iihliinitcd ttnuHint. There is enormous wealth in America, but the 
hin)ic«t form of luxury, art patronise in the right spirit, is as yet only 

^a; iji!u. ICC :*: o.-sdT 

MfSaU Glms Ifindatu in the Residence of Frederick 
L. Ames, Esq., Boston. 


character, has been fruitful of good results in a real advance of the 
methods of execution by trained assistants. 

Mr. La Farge's earliest work in ornament differs only from that of 
to-day in his not having then developed some refinements of make, and 
in the ruder cutting, more like the European (because he had not yet had 
time to train men in the new way), and also, as he has explained above, 
in a more parsimonious use of the opal glass. His very earliest windows 
are purely ornamental : one of the first he made is based on Japanese 
metal open work, in which the leads form the decorative basis. 

Soon afterwards he begins to show his intimate alliance with the feel- 
ing of the Renaissance, and the very early Renaissance. In this spirit is 
the architectural window for Dr. Richard Derby, where in a Renaissance 
architectural frame hangs a Venetian tapestry, embroidered with jewels 
and with a fringe of pendants, which would have pleased the ornamental 
taste of Brother Francis Colonna or the architects of Bergamo. 

This was soon followed by some of the flower panels that are so 
characteristic of him. They are more or less inspired by the Japanese or 
Chinese, but always in a spirit of free translation, strengthened by direct 
inspiration from nature. Beautiful instances of these panels are to he 
seen in the houses of Laurence Alma Tadema, Esq., London ; Henry 
Marquand, Esq., Newport, Rhode Island, &c. The one reproduced 
on page 65 is the White Peony Window in the house of Mr. 
Cornelius Vanderbilt, in Fifth Avenue, New York. The flowers are 
here modelled and cast in moulds. They are of creamy white on a 
delicate blue ; the borders are in many tones of white, relieved by pale 
sky-blue. Upon them hang garlands of rich Aowlts. The Marquand 
window, like that of Mr. Alma Tadema, has reJ and white peonies on a 
deep blue ground. 

On page 67 we give a copy of one of the large hall windows of Mr. 
Frederick L. Ames's house in Boston. The windows vary in style, 
according to their position ; this one has a deeply coloured centre of the 
richest materials, set in a light-toned I'rame to give light to 
the hall. The subject, difficult to understand without the colour, is 
a careful study of an ancient Chinese motive, the Peacock and the 

Among the illustrations scattered through the pages of this 

1 *r»^f^-* ,_?bv. . i 

/-^s. m\ \ 



r.r. ^^ 

P 1 

1 *-•<#^ — 



^«^*/ Sealing tke Servants of Cad in iheir Fereheadi. 
Wation Memorial IfinJom in Trinity Ciurcf', Buffah. 


chapter, the semi-classical windows show favourite motives with the 
master and his small body of pupils (among whom may be especially 
mentioned his two sons, Mr. C. Grant La Farge, the well-known 
architect, Mr. Bancel La Farge, who is now associated with his father 
and Mr. John Humphreys Johnston).^ It is interesting to see how these 
motives derived from architecture can be translated into glass. Some- 
times Venice or Florence supplies a niche, a parapet, or a round arched 
opening of marbles ; sometimes Pompeii suggests a portico ; in every case 
there is great freedom of treatment and colour ; the fluted columns are 
green and white, red and deep violet ; mouldings may be blue ; string 
courses green or purple, ornament of the deepest and most brilliant 
colours. The panellings distantly suggesting marbles belong to this 
same realm of idealised material. All this rich imaginative architecture 
is sometimes used for its own sake, sometimes it is only the setting of a 
figure subject. 

In the Ames Memorial at North Easton, Massachusetts, the archi- 
tectural ornamentation is intimately connected with the figures. In the 
" Presentation " window, in the Church of the Ascension, New York, 
the architecture is only the setting of the subject. 

Special interest attaches to the Watson Memorial window (repre- 
sented by an illustration on p. 69), which was exhibited in Paris in 1889. 
It is a picture hung in the window-opening, with no help of architectural 
framework, depending on its balance of colour and composition for 
formal beauty and for architectonic fitness. Many of the artist's later 
windows are of this type, especially after his return from his travels in 
the South Seas, which noticeably influenced his style in general, and his 
treatment of the human figure. Among them I may mention the large 
circular window (twenty feet across) in Chicago, representing the Ascen- 
sion, and the Nevins Memorial window in Methuen, Massachusetts, the 
subject of which is the Resurrection. 

The mention of these last, of which we can only give one photograph, 
brings up to me the difficulty of suggesting the originals by any process 
in black and white. 

^ Mr. Johnston is at present living and painting in Paris, and has apparently 
abandoned the Art of Glass. But Mr. La Farge desires that his name should be 
always associated with his own. 


Photography, which already is quite inadequate in its representation 
of paintings of rich colour, or of colour and gold, is ever so much more 
incompetent before the extreme variety of values of rich glass. The 
difficulty is so well recognised that attempts are rarely made to copy 
windows by photography. 

Drawings made for cartoons are used in their stead, if attainable, as 
they usually are for modern work. But Mr. La Farge's system, which 
has been explained above, is like that of the older artists in that it entails 
an absolute submission of the drawings and the cartoons to the material. 
There may be one partial drawing for a part of the colour, one for the 
values of the colour, one for the skies, one for the leads, and so on — none- 
available for the public. It is only in that way that the varying necessi- 
ties of each case can be met. In many cases the glass has been chosen 
and cut on the spot without a drawing or sketch. 

In connection with the photographic reproductions here given, I 
will attempt some notice of the originals they reproduce. 

The double window given on the opposite page is the well-known 
Battle window in the Memorial Hall of Harvard College, Cambridge. 

Mr. La Farge has described in his notes to Mr. Bing the character 
of the workmanship of this, one of his earliest windows, and the first 
in which he introduced figure work. Notwithstanding there is no 
hesitancy in its design or execution ; it is a work of successful daring. 
The wealth of material suggested by the artist's own description, has 
a corresponding gorgeousness of effect, almost Eastern in splendour, but 
Western in the masses and strongly opposed contrasts of colour. This 
is further accentuated by the free classical character of the design. It is 
a pity that the deep sky, an important element of the window and of its 
design, disappears in the photograph. 

■ The great Vanderbilt window, portions of which are reproduced, is on 
a large staircase, and consists of nine lights, running through three stories* 

Our small illustration gives the three lower and most splendid 
windows. The following indications may help to some notion of the 
scheme of colouring. The draperies of the woman kneeling to the 
left, who represents " Hospitality," are of opalescent ruby. Her under 
tunic is yellow and white, the vine trellis dark against the deep blue 
sky, the grapes dark green and purple. 

Mesiic Glasi H'lndsw : ih Fhg of (l.irv,ird ColUgc, 
Memorial Hall, C,iimbridf_t, 

Batik in,i£a." 



The colour scheme of the central panel has the same Venetian 
harmony. The strings of jewels of varying colours add to the back- 
ground's intensity of glow. The base is made of a first border of blue- 
green studded with jewels, red and yellow ; upon it a broader band of 
white opal, and again a band of irregular silvery crystal fragments, in 
which are scattered opal drops, edged by a delicate wavering line of green, 
which prevents all monotony or harshness of rectangularity. The final 
border is of brown and white. I dwell on these small details for once, 
because to me, personally, ornament can be as much of a revelation as a 
historic picture ; and the originality, grace, charm, and infinite suggestive- 

ness of Mr. La Farge's ornament have been a great source of delight 
to me. 

The figure to the right, representing " Prosperity," is reproduced in 
our plate from the colour sketch. The glass is extremely rich, though 
the comf>osition of colour is of remarkable simplicity and directness, 
its effect being largely due to the skilful adjustment of a very few 
primitive tones. 

The three west windows of Trinity Church, Boston, are of a special 
type of design. They are long and narrow, some twenty-two feet high, 
and placed very high in the end wall of the nave. 



The central window is almost filled by the colossal figure of Christ 
standing. His right hand raised in benediction, and holding a book in the 

Part of a Moi/ii-- Glass Wnidav;. 
lit the Reiidenct ef IVUIlam H. Vanderhill, Esq. 

left hand. He is under a slender canopy, scarcely more than a mere 
frame of Byzantine architecture. Steps leading up serve to render the 


figure more majestic : His robe is dark red and His mantle blue of many 
hues; the background of uncut jewels is of an indescribable blue-green, 
which looks like a solidified air ; the canopy glows in gold and colours. 
So successful is the proportion of this colossal figure to the shape of the 
window and the space of the wall in which it is, that its size is forgotten ; 
it merely seems the point of interest in the west end. 

Each of the side windows is divided throughout its length by a tall 
column, a motive which I have never seen applied or suggested elsewhere 
in glass, and which is entirely successful in connecting the actual archi- 
tecture of the Church with the simulated architecture of the windows. 
These columns detach against the same blue-green ground of sky and air. 

I should add that translucent stone has been used to accentuate the 
architectural features, and the glass is so rich in material that it is not 
possible to tell where the one ends and the other begins. 

In his choice and treatment of theme, Mr. La Farge was guided 
partly by a wish to please the late Bishop Brooks, then rector of Trinity, 
by placing something simple and grave before his eyes when preaching. 
He wished also to increase the depth of the nave of the Church by a 
decoration of the windows, that should vary the wall surface at the west 
end and suggest spaces beyond. P'or this the tones of rich glass are 
especially fitted, as it is difficult to gauge their distance. 

It so happened that I saw these windows on the very first day of my 
arrival in America, and I shall never forget the impression they made on 
me. I was fresh from a long stay in Italy, had but lately renewed my 
acquaintance with some of the French cathedrals, and was not easily 
satisfied with any modern attempts at religious art. But this took hold 
of me in a way that thrust all previous comparisons aside ; nothing, of 
the best, had ever moved me more deeply. Here was colour, permeated 
with a glow that i had not dreamed possible. 

It did not seem possible ; this was not what I had been led to expect 
in America, nor did it seem to agree with what I saw in the houses of 
the city. I know now that the contrast presented by this my first day 
in America contains the explanation of much that troubles foreigners. 
The method invented by Mr. La Farge has been coarsely exploited by 
others. Only in the hands of a true artist does its precious quality, such 
a revelation to us foreigners, remain unhurt. 



As I have said already, the arts of Japan had attracted Mr. La Farge 
at a time when they had a merely curious interest for the world at large. 
His first published work is the chapter on Japanese art, written for Mr. 
Raphael Pumpelly's Across America and Asia. I have quoted from this 
essay in my chapter on Mr. La Farge's landscape, and I give one or two 
more passages here to show the style of the writer, and his appreciation 
of the importance of Japanese art at a time when its products were 
promiscuously exported as curiosities and when the difficulty of travel 
made any thorough knowledge of its monuments unattainable. 

"... Most evident in Japanese art is the use of the marvellous 
decoration, the very crown of the power over colour, always an heirloom 
of the East, and a separate gift from ours. To Eastern directness, fulness, 
and splendour, the Japanese add a sobriety, a simplicity, a love of 
subdued harmonies, and imperceptible gradations, and what may be called 
an intellectual refinement akin to something in the Western mind. If 
we wish, their works can be for us a store-house as ample and as 
valuable in its way as the treasures of form left to us by the Greeks. 
For the Japanese, no combinations of colours have been improbable, and 
their solutions of such as are set aside by Western convention recall the 
very arrangements of nature. 

" Great beauty of colour is apt to obscure the structure upon which 
ii rests, and excellence of design not seldom goes unrecognised in the 
works of the great colourists. Little as this is felt in the harmonious 
synthesis of Japanese decoration, Japanese drawing and wood-cuts in 
black and white allow us to gauge their abstract power of design, and 
their knowledge of drawing. Stripped of the other beauties of colour 


and texture so peculiar to their precious work, these drawings give us 
in the simplest way their control of composition, that power in art which 
affects the imagination by the mere adjustment of lines and masses. 
Their work can be compared to the best in this, the simplest means of 
expression in art, for in this all its forms and periods are united, and the 
tattooing of the savage is connected with the designs of Michael Angelo. 
In fact, it is the nearest expression of the will of the artist, which is the 
very foundation of art. 

" In ornamental design Japanese composition has developed a principle 
which separates it, technically, from other schools of decoration ; it will 
have been noticed by all who have observed Japanese ornamental work. 
It might be called a principle of irregularity, or apparent chance arrange- 
ment — a balancing of equal gravities, not of equal surfaces. A Western 
designer, in ornamenting a given surface, would look for some fixed 
points from which to start, and would mark the places where his mind 
had rested by exact and symmetrical divisions. These would be supposed 
by a Japanese, and his design would float over them, while they, though 
invisible, would be felt beneath. Thus a few ornaments — a bird, a 
flower — on one side of this page would be made by an almost intellectual 
influence to balance the large unadorned space remaining. 

" And so, by a principle familiar to painters, an appeal is made to the 
higher ideas of design, to the desire of concealing art beneath a look of 
nature. It has the advantage of allowing any division and extension and 
super-imposition of other and contradictory designs. And, by another 
kinship with the higher forms of art, the Japanese look to more 
symmetrical arrangements for their graver efl^ects and religious sym- 
bolisms. To carry out this subtle conciliation of symmetry and chance, 
this constant reference to the order of nature, has required, of course, 
an incessant watching of all its moods and all its details 

" I have no space to consider whether, if the Japanese have an ideal, 
it can be contained, as with the Greeks, in the dream of a perfect 
beauty. The suflicient ideal of realism is character. Nor, any more 
than in Pagan antiquity, need we expect to find in Japanese art that 
deeper individual personality — the glory of our greatest art — which may 
perhaps be connected (however illogically it has been proved) with the 
education of the Western world by Christianity. The effbrt to bring 


to the surface the subtlest, deepest, and most complex feelings of the 
mind, which is the soul of the works of Leonardo, of Michael Angelo, 
of Rembrandt, has had apparently no exemplar outside of modern and 

Christian Europe '* 

It was not until 1886 that the artist realised his wish to see the 
sights and study the people of Japan with his own eyes. He spent a 
summer there with his friend, Mr. Henry Adams, the historian, writing 
home from time to time the delightful letters that have since (in the 
volumes for 1890, 1891, 1893) appeared in the Century Magazine. 
Travellers assure me that they have " the true flavour of Japan." 
Nothing about Japan that I have read has seemed to me to have such 
depth and sympathy. In their keen perceptions they are pre-eminently 
an artist's letters ; in their wide and varied speculations, a subtle 
thinker's. Full of touches that bring things seen before us with peculiar 
vividness, rich in passages that seize the essential point in discussions 
of art. Eastern and Western, questions of history, philosophy, national 
characteristics, they have the rare directness and penetrative insight of 
the men whose birthright is to see. Other passages, again, are chiefly 
remarkable for their delightful avoidance of the point at issue, for the 
charmingly dreamy way in which the writer follows side tracks and lets 
his mind ride " the stray fancies that float past," sometimes leading him 
into realms of the brightest spiritual beauty, as in the inimitable letter 
called "Tao, or The Way." 

Several of the sketches brought back from Japan were exhibited 
in Paris in a special exhibition within the Salon du Champ de 
Mars in 1895. These clear and sparkling water-colours are different 
from the Pre-Raphaelite studies which I have mentioned in preceding 
chapters, and yet like them they seek the faithful rendering of facts, 
of light and atmosphere, of colour and structure, without any thought 
of looking for motives, or even seeing pictures. Perhaps this is 
why they have such an exotic charm. 

This desire to chronicle simply, faithfully, with the keen insight 
and marvellous technique at his command, is the key-note of all the 
sketches brought home from Mr. La Farge's later wanderings in the 
South Seas. It was '' the thing itself," as he says in T^ao^ that appealed 
to him, not the opportunity for making pictures. The artist here 


is one with the deeply curious student ; but only an artist could have 
seen and given things as he has done. 

The impression which I have tried to analyse has been felt by 
the eminent French critic, M. Paul Bourget. He describes these 
studies of the South Seas in some pages of his Outre-Mer^ which I 
shall quote at length : — 

" Nowhere have I felt more keenly the influence of travel upon 
American intellectuality than in New York, and in the studio of 
that admirable painter, too little known to us, notwithstanding his 
French name, John La Farge. The man himself, who is no longer 
young, whose subtle face with a skin whitened, and as if dried by 
inner ardour, with eyes mobile and yet held within lids both drawn 
and stretched, gives the impression of a nervous activity unappeased 
by any effort, unsatisfied through any experience, and seeking, and 
seeking again. He has invented new processes for stained glass. He 
has practised both decoration and illustration, painting in oil, and 
encaustic, has executed large altar-pieces, such as his grand and refined 
Ascension in the Episcopal Church, as well as delicate pastelles. 
Some months ago he was wandering among the islands of the Pacific — 
Samoa, Tahiti, the Fiji Islands. 

'' ' We wished to go very far,' he said. 'Japan is too near. There 
is always the telegraph. The Pacific gives you at least two months 
free from news.' 

'' This is the cry of the artist, tired of conventional life, tired of 
the railroad, the telephone, or all that makes business easy and breaks 
up time, hungry for new sensations, and especially in love with his 
art, and violently resolved to live for his thought alone during days 
and days. And while the snowy January afternoon iced the city, these 
little islands, lost upon the map, took life, and were lit and became green 
for me, through the pictures of this refined painter, whose least words betray 
the seeker of a kind like Fromentin, the visionary, who thinks out his 
sensations, — a rare — a very rare power Here are branches over- 
green edging a sea overblue, branches, the web of whose leaves seems 
full of water, and which tell the perpetual dampness of the air about 
them. Banana trees lift their straight trunks, from which drop the 
long, subtle blades of their leaves. The cocoa-trees toss their palms 



in the wind of the Pacific, that blows without ceasing — a wind which 
passes, like the immense wave of that immense ocean, from one pole 
to the other. The burao, a great tree with knotty trunk, spreads its 
wide leafage, similar to that of our fig-trees. Everywhere are flowers, 
and the flat full-blown corollas of the strange hibiscus. In this natural 
stage-decoration appear very low huts with thatch and open sides along 
which fall the supple mats. Men and women pass between these trees, 
and the edges of that sea, some dancing, crowned with flowers ; others all 
covered with leafage, crawling to some murder ; others bearing on their 
shoulders light canoes, others in these canoes going out to fish. And all 
about them is a landscape cared for, cleaned, almost adorned : ' the 
savage,' says the painter profoundly, 'is the old-fashioned gentleman, 
the man of traditions, who does everything according to rule, and who 
refuses to change anything of his habits.' And showing me a girl sliding 
down a waterfall of terrible appearance : ' She is not afraid,' he adds. 
' Because there is not a fold of the soil that she does not know, not a 
pebble which has not been for centuries in the same place, out of the 
water, and under the water. Over there, when you hurt your foot you 
say to yourself, my grandfather had warned me that there was a stone in 
the path.' .... 

''.... Among all others the bathing scenes are charming to look at. 
Wide rivers run within the woods. Fair women's bodies are plunged 
with noble antique immodesty in this water wherein the blue of heaven 
descends. Children play in the surf of the ocean. The wave breaks 
against the reef, and in the places where it drags over coral bottoms, its 
green shade becomes so pure and so intense as to be clothed in the 
colouring of precious stones. At other moments, with the setting sun, it 
is all rosy. The brown and lithe nudity of the savage is detached with 
the delicacies of antique bronze against this ocean of divine hue. One 
feels the soft and caressing atmosphere in which the human animal is happy 
with an almost vegetable felicity ; or in which like a plant it languishes. 
Seated around a fire that lights them fantastically, the women of Tahiti 
draped in long dresses of light stuffs, with straw hats on their little heads, 
seem to play at winter, while other groups figure scenes of biblical or 
Hellenic grandeur — an old man, blind and naked, is led by a child ; a 
brown youth gallops a white horse on the shore of the sea ; dances, 



bacchanals, I had almost said, interlace, and the heavy leaves of the 
garlands worn by the wild dancers recall the feasts in the ravines of the 
Taygetus, sung of by the poet : 

" . . , . Et virginibus bacchata Lacacnis 
Taygcla .... 

" The joy of the painter as he shows these studies is delightful to sec. 


i^'Iw •.' 'WM 


mLw'- ^-* iL^^ 

I ^ ^n 

K#> ; ^m 




B/inJ M.iir and Hs Daughter at I'.iiala, 
From a li'aur-cokur Drawing. 

His eyes warm under tKe caresses of this remembered light, his mind is 
married again to this primitive life, with the delight of renewed youth, 
and of initiation." 

Mr. Bourget's analysis is confirmed by Mr. La Farge's own description 
of the attitude of the painter. I quote from notes prefixed to one of his 
South Sea journals, to which in a moment I shall refer. 


" You must remember that I am a painter, and that we painters are 
in a certain way like children ; we delight in anything seen ; and all 
things that we notice in any way are accompanied by a sort of picture. 
No matter what the moment may be — it may be one of pleasure, it may 
be one of danger, it may be one of extreme anxiety or mental tension — it 
is usually pictured in the mind, even when the mind is occupied other- 
wise. I make this statement because my notebook will read differently 
to you on that account ; and things will be described from outside and as 
pictures, and often referring more to pictures and drawings and art, even 
if I am moralising or explaining. And that you must forgive ; and even 
perhaps it may prove to have some advantage ; because it may urge you 
to use your imagination, and try to see in your mind the things described 
in the manner in which I have set them forth. Besides, the fact that I 
speak of the colour of this thing or that, may help to give you a notion 
of the kind of day it was : hence of the weather : hence of the climate. 
And if I speak of the p)eople I saw and describe their gestures, you can 
make a picture to yourself explaining why they were beautiful ; and I 
am saved from telling you that they were beautiful or otherwise. 
Because, as you know, tastes differ extremely ; and we don't think of 
beauty in the same way when we speak of a cow or of a tiger, of brown 
men like my islanders, or of white men like yourselves." 

It has been my privilege to consult the sketchbooks, notebooks, and 
journals that belong to the year of travel during which were made the 
sketches and paintings of the South Seas, that Mr. La Farge has shown 
both in the United States and in Paris. We reproduce from the sketch- 
books some few drawings here and there. From the great mass of the 
journals I prefer to quote some notes written in Samoa, because especially 
they were made at the moment of the artist's first acquaintance with his 
first South Sea Island, to which he was taken by accident, ** so that he 
happened to fall right into the ordinary strange way of life, for a few 
hours, without any preface, as if he had dropped through the world. ^' 

Tutuila, a little island of the Samoan group, was the place to which 
the travellers' little cutter was taken by unexpected wind and calm. 
Here they were initiated into the ways of savage life in *' a far-away 
place that kept up old fashions." The journals and the sketchbooks 
describe how they were taken to the guest house, and properly received 



by the Taupo or official Virgin of the village, hurrying to meet her 
unexpected guests according to the rules of time-honoured etiquette. 
Kava, the ceremonial drink, was made and offered in the true ceremonial 
way in cadences of regulated gestures, by graceful bronze-brown maidens, 
wreathed and draped in fruit and leaves. They watched the old women 
beat out the bark cloth. Between the showers they walked across the 
village green "edged by huts and trees, the palms thickening in the 
distance and hiding the sudden and clear slope of the mountain right 
against us." " From the intricate tangle of green we saw the amethyst 
sea, and the white line of sounding surf, cutting through the sloping 
pillars of the cocoa-nuts that made a mall along the shore ; and over on 

From .1 IVaicr-c'J'iur Drawing. 

the other side of the narrow harbour, the great high green wall of 
the mountain, warm in the sun ; its fringe of cocoa-nut groves and the 
few huts hidden within it, softened below by the haze blown up from the 
breakers. All made a picture not too large to be taken in at a glance ; 
the reality of the pictures of savage lands in our school books filled 
in with infinite detail." 

" From dark interior of huts came gentle greetings of ' Alofa ' 
(hail !).... Young men went by, with wreaths on their heads, undraped 
to the waist, like the statues of the gods of the family of Jove ; their 
wide shoulders, and strong smooth arms, and long back-muscles or great 
pectorals shining like red bronze. All this strength was soft ; the 
muscles of the younger men softened and passed into one another as in 


tlu' niodclling of a (Jrcck statue. As with the girls we had just left, 
no ruJont-ss of hair marred the ruddy surfaces, recalling all the more the 
ideal (It statues. Occasionally the hajr, reddened or whitened, and the 
tlra|vry of the native dark cloth, siapu^ of a brown ochre colour, n t 
unlike the flesh, recalled still more the look of a Greek clay image, \ t.i 
its colour ami gilding broken by time. And never in any case was th^:re 
:i bit ot colour that might be called barbaric; the patterns might be 
I'.urojx'an, but no one could have chosen them better, for use with great 
surfaces of flesh. If all this docs not tell vou that there was no naked- 


ros?. :'"ir wv only hxi :r.c t^jV before us. — I shill not have g:«ri vou 
:hc*N.' ^ictii'* rn.".vr'.v. Fv-^cr.tiy i!'. »-i< icccriir^^ t.i crier anc 


cloth with opening for head, patterned in lozenges of black, white, and 
red, that hung down her back and chest, leaving arms and shoulders 
bare, and the sides of her body, so that as she bent, the soft line that 
joins the breast to the under arm, showed under the heavy folds. Then, 
in came our missing pet, Siva, with Tuvale and two others, into the 
penumbra of the lamp. They were naked to the waist ; over their 
tucked-up drapery hung brilliant leaf-strips of light green, streaked with 
red ; a few leaves girdled the ankle ; around Siva's neck, over her 
beautiful bosom, hung a long narrow garland of leaves, and on the 
others garlands of red fruit or long rows of beads interlaced ; every 
head was wreathed with green and red leaves, and all and everything, 
leaves, brown flesh, and tresses glistened with perfumed oil. From the 
small focus of the lamp, the light struck on the surface of the leaves 
as upon some delicate fairy tinsel, and upon the forms of the girls as if 
upon a red bronze waxed. But no bronze has ever been movable, and 
the perpetual ripple of light over every fold, muscle, and dimple, was 
the most complete theatrical lighting I have ever seen. Even in the dark, 
streaks of light lit up the forms and revealed every delicacy of motion. 

'' So those lovers of form, the Greeks, must have looked, anointed 
and crowned with garlands, and the so-called dance that we saw might 
not have been misplaced far back in some classical antiquity. The 
girls sat in a row before us, grave and collected, their beautiful legs 
curled upon the lap as in East Indian sculptures ; and Siva began a 
curious chant. As all sang with her together, they moved their arms 
in various ways to the cadence and in explanation of the song ; and with 
the arms, now the waist and shoulders, now the entire body even to the 
feet, rising apparently upon the thighs to the time of music. Indeed Siva 
spoke with her whole tremulous body, undulating to the fingers, all in a 
rhythm, as the sea runs up and down on the beach, and is never at rest, 
but seems to obey one general line of curve. So she, and the others, 
turned to one side and the other, and stretched out their arms, or crossed 
them, and passed them under the hollow of the arms, and pressed each 
other's shoulders and lifted fingers in some sort of tale, and made gestures 
evident of meaning, or obscure, and swayed and turned ; and, most beautiful 
of all, stretched out long arms upon the mats, as if swimming upon their 
sides, while all the time the slender waist swayed and the legs and thighs 
followed the rhythm through their muscles, without being displaced. 


** I cannot describe it any better : of what use is it to say that it was 
beautiful and extraordinary, and that no motion of a Western dancer but 
would seem stifF beside such an ownership of the body. It must have 
been beautiful merely as motion, for the fourth woman was old and not 
beautiful, but she melted into the others, so that one only saw, as it were, 
the lovely form of Siva repeated by poorer reflections of her motion in 

lesser light I wonder that no one had told me of a rustic Greece 

still alive somewhere, to be looked at. So that the old Italian statues 
and paintings were no conventionality, and that the whaler, the mission- 
ary, and the beach-comber were witnesses of things that they did not see 
because they had not read. And if one reads does he care to-day ^ Had 
I only known, years ago ! — even at this date, when it is too late, the 
memory of all that beauty that we call Greece, the one beauty which is 
to outlast all that is alive, comes over me like a wave of mist, softening 
and putting far away into fairyland all that I have been looking at." 

These words were written next morning on board of the little boat to 
*' the long sway and cadence of the distant surf, like to the movement of 
ancient verse, — the music of the Odyssey.'* 

" If through it all you can gather my impression, can see something 
of the old beauty, always known, in these new pictures, you will under- 
stand why the Greek Homer is in my mind — all Greece, the poetry of 
form and colour that comes from her. The Samoan youngster who rose 
shining from the sea to meet us, all brown and red, with a red hibiscus 
blossom fastened in his hair by a grass knot as beautiful as any carved 
ornament, was Tintoretto's Bacchus making offering to Ariadne. . . . 
And there will soon come a day when, even for those who care, all this 
will be no more ; when nowhere on earth or sea will there be any living 
proof that Greek art is not the mere invention of the poet — the refuge of 
the artist in his disdain of the ugly in life. What I have just seen is 
already to me almost a dream.** 

This exquisite "dream'* is the keynote of one side of the Samoan 
journals. Reading them is like a long vision of a heroic age, still 
surviving in dances and ceremonies, poetry of gesture and rounded beauty 
of form. Mr. La Farge is careful to say *' that poetry is not in them» 
but of them.'* *'The whole body has had an external meaning, has been 
used as ours is no longer, to express a feeling or to maintain a reserve 

(yji(ud \JifAfn^4i4u'n c f Jjiftj, cf ^' A^ . vS a 


which we only look for in a face." " I am lingering here, as I see for 
the first time, and probably for the last, a rustic and a Boeotian antiquity, 
and if I like to paint subjects of the *nude' and * drapery,' I shall 
know how they look in reality." 

Mr. La Farge's record is doubly valuable : not only does he possess 
the sympathetic insight and the power of observation of the painter ; he 
has also the wide reading, tenacious memory, and careful curiosity of the 
student : while this visionary and mystic is noted for his respect for facts 
and painstaking accuracy in details. 

The sketches and the journals explain what happens to the travellers. 
Often the record is set down at the same time both in line or colour 
and in words. The rhythm of the written phrases follows the rhythm of 
the movement whose attitudes are sketched also by the pencil or the brush. 

Thus we can follow the travellers in boats of Polynesian chiefs on 
trips of mingled etiquette and pleasure : we see the dances sometimes 
wild, sometimes languorous, always beautifully cadenced. Of these some 
are dramatic, even Aristophanic in character, some lyric or descriptive ; 
while others are improvisations upon given themes : what might be 
called, it seems, complimentary odes to distinguished guests, or ballads 
about some young chief, often one of the performers. 

As in the drawing reproduced in our plate ^ the travellers are dulv 

^ " This is not a scene from an opera, nor a study tor a classical fresco like 
those of M. Puvis de Chavanncs. It is what we saw at a little place called Falcu 
in the little island of Manono, where we were last month for two days, and it was 
still more like a scene from an opera and much more classical. The drawing repre- 
sents a tulafale, or village orator, addressing us in set speech, according to rules, on 
the occasion of the presentation of gifts of food. Two other tulafales are also present, 
one from the same village and another from our own. This one is also a chief and 
is the sitting giant, while the speechmaker is not a large man. You will recognise 
the tulafales by their fly-brushes, placed on their shoulders. Wc arc looking at them 
through the posts or pillars of the elliptical house, the guest-house in which we were 
sitting. These posts are decorated with flowers in our honour according to custom. 
There arc baskets of food, cocoanuts, and taro-roots, thrown on the stones outside 
the house, which in this case is placed on an ascent. The young man in the fore- 
ground sitting on the slope of stones, is one of our crew, who in a moment will 
rise, count aloud the presents, stating who gave them, 8cc. The presents were few* 
the place a poor little village, and the occasion a small one. 

"But the classical impression was all the greater, and nothing could exaggerate the 
look of the set scene of a play. Even the little canoe, under the big tree looked like 
the real boats put on the stage to increase the illusion." 


harangued by the tulafales, hereditary orators : military receptions and 
war dances are given in their honour. The bodyguard of murderers of 
the King Malietoa repeat their evolutions before them. But here I shall 
quote from the journal : 

*' Right in the middle of the green before us, treading the path 
between the Princess and her girls, crouching to the ground, sprawling 
or running, bending low, came three men, all blackened, with green 
wreaths of leaves around their heads and a short tail of white Tappa 
hanging out of their girdles. These were the King's ' murderers,' the 
Aitutagata, relics of a bygone time, when savage chiefs, like European, 
used licensed crime to rid themselves of enemies — or friends — against 
whom they could not wage open war. These whom we saw were only 
on parade, but the ancestors of these official murderers by heredity had 
been actively employed. At the whispered word of the chief they 
tracked the destined victim, risking their lives in the attack, and plunged 
into him their peculiar weapon, the Foto, the barb of the sting ray, which, 
breaking in the wound, and poisonous withal, meant inevitable death." 

And this, an account of one of the war dances : 

'• The sound of the guns filled the air. Slowly now, moving step by 
step, the mass of people behind the trees came so that they could be seen. 
In front of the men with a chorus of girls preceding her, a girl with black 
shaggy waist garment like thin fur, with long red necklaces of beads, 
flowers in her hair, danced slowly to a tune, crossing and uncrossing her 
feet, swinging with both hands a small club, as a drum-major might move 
his stick. Slowly she advanced, escorted by two men, from whose heads 
stood out a mass of yellow hair like the cap of a military officer, supported 
by circles of shells around the head. They also kept time to the music, 
but did not repeat the girl's monotonous step which made the central 
point of interest to which the eye always returned. This girl was the 
Taupo, the virgin of the village, dancing and marching in her official place 
at the head of the warriors. When she had moved slowly a few yards, 
one could see that in the crowd there were other girls representing other 
villages, who also repeated these movements, while some of the men danced 
and others stepped slowly with crossed arms holding clubs or muskets." 

The travellers passed a year together among these isles of summer 
and fr^e air, under exceptional circumstances and with advantages not 
easily repeated. They had most of the privileges that name and influence 








can bring. The artist's companion, Mr. Henry Adams, the historian 
and the scholar, is the grandson and great-grandson of Presidents of the 
United States, and therefore to the islanders a representative of all his 
country's past and of a royal house. Warships have carried the name 
for a century to all the isles of the ocean. Hence, perhaps, among all 
other reasons, a certain sympathy of understood position from the chiefs, 
the last defenders and bulwarks of an antique aristocratic past, and less 
reticence in their explanations. The tone of the journals thus naturally 
becomes more comprehensive and more philosophical with the soundings 
of the savage mind and the analysis of early civilisation. Any extracts 
would suffer in being separated from their context. I shall merely quote 
a passage which refers to the famous personality of King Mataafa. 

*' Mataafa sometimes calls at this hour, sometimes a little earlier, on 
his return from church, if it be a holy day — for Mataafa is very strict in 
religious duty. But usually he has chosen the afternoon. He speaks no 
English and we have varying interpreters ; but still, owing in part to 
his kindness and courtesy, wc have learned a great deal from him. He 
is not so easily questioned as an inferior might be. When Tofae's great 
daughter is called in hurriedly to help out, because we have not had 
sufficient warning — Tofae's daughter, who fears no man, whose neck 
carries her head as a column does a capital — she interprets with extreme 
respect and reticence, as it were by your leave, bending her head, looking 
only sidewise at the great chief, holding her breath when she speaks to 
him and almost whispering. Kvery phrase is prefaced with ' The King 
says,' all of which gives us the measure of proper respect, but does not 
hasten the conversation. 

'' Mataafa is not interested in facts as mere curiosities. I doubt if 
he would approve of my interest in most things if he could guess it. 
Information with regard to the world abroad he cares for only as it 
affects Samoa, that is to say, in conversation with us. He would like to 
know that we have some messages of advantage to his country. It has 
taken a long time to make him sympathise with our questionings about 
Samoan ways and manners, and their origins, which involve, of course, 
history and social law. And yet if he could appreciate it, in that way we 
get at an understanding of what he is and of the difficulties that beset him. 

'* The constant interference, involuntary very often, very often most 


kindly meant, of the missionary or the clergyman, has diminished this 
influence of the chief — an unwritten, uncodified power, properly an influ- 
ence, something that when once gone has to be born again. And the 
brown clergyman, continuing the authority of the white one, has some- 
thing further less pure, a feeling of ambition, a desire to assert himself 
against former superiors ; and he is perhaps still more a dissolvent of the 
body politic into which he was born. 

" I see no picture about me more interesting than the moral one of 
my next neighbour, the great Mataafa. To see the devout Christian, the 
man who has tried to put aside the small things that tie us down, struggle 
with the antique prejudices — necessary ones — of a Polynesian nobleman, 
is a touching spectacle. When a young missionary rides up to his door 
while all others gently come up to it, and those who pass move far away, 
out of respect, and then when the confident youth, full of his station as a 
religious teacher, speaks to the great chief from his saddle, Mataafa's face 
is a study. Over the sensitive countenance, which looks partly like that 
of a warrior, partly like that of a bishop or church guardian, comes a 
wave of surprise and disgust, promptly repelled, as the higher view of 
forgiveness and respect for holy office comes to his relief. 

" But Mataafa is not only a chief of chiefs, he is a gentleman among 
gentlemen. My companion, difficult to please, says, * La Farge, at last 
we have met a gentleman.' 

" His is a sad fate : to have done all for Samoa ; to have beaten the 
Germans and wearied them out ; to have been elected king, by almost 
unanimous consent, including that of the present king, who wished him 
to reign ; then to be abandoned by us ; and to feel his great intellectual 
superiority and yet to be idle and useless when things are going wrong. 
And more than all, however supported by the general feeling to-day, if 
he moves to establish his claims, the three foreign nations who decide 
Samoa's future, not for her good, but for their comfort or advantage, 
will certainly have to combine and crush him. 

" He is a hero of tragedy, a reminder of the Middle Ages, when a 
man could live a religious life and a political one. 

'' And his adversaries among the natives are among our friends, and 
we like them also, though there is none to admire like Mataafa." 

The journals from Tahiti at once strike a difl^erent key. The Greek 


note of classical nudity, or rhythm in motion, is gone from the journals 
as it has gone from the sketches ; the Samoan sketches are rather figure 
subjects ; the Tahitian sketches, rather landscapes. In Tahiti we are in 
another world. The landscape is of dream-like loveliness. **The 
beach. ... is as beautiful as if composed for Claude Lorraine ; great trees 
stand up within a few feet of the tideless sea. Where the shallows run 
in at times, canoes and outriggers are pulled up. People sit near the 
water's edge, on the grass. Outside of all the shade, we see the island 
of Moorea further out than the far line of the reef, no longer blue, but 
glowing like a rose in the beginning of the twilight. . . . The end 
of our road brings us along the sea, but far up, so that we look down 
over spaces of palm and indentations of small bays fringed with foam, 
all in the shade below us. On the sea is outlined always the island of 
Moorea. Landward on Tahiti rise the great mountain, the Aorai^ the 
edge apparently of a great central crater, and a fantastic serrated peak 
called the ' Diadem,' also an edge of the great chasm. On the other 
side great ridges run from the sea to the central heights, recalling the 
vast slopes of Hawaii. But here all is green ; even the eight thousand 
feet of the Aoraiy which look blue and violet, melt into the green around 
us, so as to show that the same verdure passes unbroken, wherever there 
is a foothold, from the sea to the highest tops. This haze of green, so 
delicate as to be nameable only by other colours, gives a look of sweet- 
ness to these high places, and makes them repeat, in tones of light, 
against the blue of the sky, chords of colour similar to those of the 
trees and the grass against the blue and violet of the sea. . . . But the 
simplicity, joyous, unconcerned, of Samoa is missing. ... In Samoa 
we struck the keynote — or at least what remains of the antique 
Polynesian civilisation. In Tahiti they are a century almost in 
advance, or rather in change of the older ways. Here they wear hats, 
the girls especially, and the long gowns — the men wear the loin cloth 
and commonly a shirt ; though sometimes you see the bare body, 
usually fine and strong — their colour is paler or more neutral than the 
ruddy tone of the Samoan flesh. And their faces are finer, but sadder 
and yet not nobler. Indeed, though I do not feel it here so much, in 
this charming place, where our host and his sister and his mother, the 
old chiefess, are kindly entertaining us, there is a general impression of 


sadness and pensiveness which affects even the very landscape. . . . The 
blues and violets and greens fall into chords that are rarely gay, even 
though the landscape forms are those that we might call rtant^ if we were 
talking French. The running of the many little rivers to the sea, and the 
meeting of the waters with the incoming tide, the sight of the breakers on 
the reef, or their splashing on the shore behind a screen of foliage of 
beautiful patterns, the blue haze, or the darkness of the mountains and the 
greyness of reflected light, which makes them look like velvet — all these 
combinations are lovely and slightly mournful." The very chaunts which 
in Samoa seemed joyous, here sounded sad. " Tati*s mother, the old 
chiefess, Ariitamai, or Hinarii, repeated legends and stories suggested by 
the songs : war cries of ancestors ; praises of the beauties who unveiled 
themselves at the bath. All now sung by these quiet, sad people in 
straw hats, gowns, and scarves, with an occasional umbrella." . . . 

I have mentioned the chiefess Ariitamai. ''This great lady, the 
greatest in all the Pacific, is the last link of the old and new : with her 
will go traditions, stories, and habits of indefinite antiquity, of the earliest 
life of man. . . . We are asking her to tell something of them while we are 
here. But it would take months to get even a part : some of it will be 
saved ; the genealogies which prove title to names and successions and 
hence to lands. All this has been secret, for with the mixing of families, 
and no written records until to-day, the knowledge of one's ancestry was 
the proof of descent and ownership. . . . We who listen and she who 
speaks represent, as we sit about her on the mats, vast differences of 
training and of race ; extreme varieties of habits of mind ; and I am all 
the more impressed when I realise the vast spaces of the physical and the 
intellectual world that are compressed into this little space. When the 
delicate voice of the younger princess, her daughter, whispers, * that too 
is like Lohengrin ' ; or her other daughter, the Queen, translates into 
PVench, because the exact meaning is not so precisely represented in 
English, I feel that we have really come to the end of the ancient world." 
The poetic attachment of the travellers to this fairyland became more 
intimate ; the great chiefess adopted them into her own family,^ her 

^ Two Europeans have shared to some extent this singular and poetic privilege : 
the late Mr. Robert Louis Stevenson, in so far as he was adopted into the outer branch 
of the Teva, and Prince Oscar of Sweden. 


ancestors became theirs, the family legends theirs by inheritance. They 
thus even may claim descent from the mythical ancestor, the God-Shark 
or man-fish, who began the race : they received ancient titles and names 
of founders of the family. 

The long dream of holiday came to an end. " We passed the 
fantastic peaks and crags of Moorea, wrapped above in the scud of the 
trade-winds blowing in our favour. In a gentle sadness the two islands 
faded' into the dark ; the end of the charm we had been under — too 
exquisite ever to be repeated." 

The journals from Hawaii and Fiji, Java and Ceylon must be left 
unquoted. In 1891 Mr. La Farge returned to Europe. 

In the autumn of 1892 he undertook the unwonted task of teaching. 
In connection with a course of instruction in Colour and Composition 
given to students at the Metropolitan Museum of New York, he gave 
six public lectures on Painting.^ Touching their scope, he says 
(Lecture V.) : 

"The museum, as you know, is a modern institution. It is 
admirable in one sense ; in another, what it replaces was better for the 
lifcof art than what it gives to-day. The change was inevitable and in 
certMn ways we shall have to accept it for the indefinite future. With 
time we shall readjust ourseives, we shall develop better the methods 
imposed upon us; it may be that we shall make still stronger what 
remains we have of the methods of instruction that belong to the past. 
With the division, then, established in the methods of record, the 
academy teaching certain things and the museum all things ; the 
one analytically and iii sequence, the other as life teaches, in masses of 
fact, we come to feel that to bring back the ancient synthesis, the 
two divisions forced upon us by modern changes must be brought 
tc^ether. . . . What we need to think of to-day, and what, in a certain 
way, I am here to show you, is that the museum knows more than 
the academy." 

With this statement of the value of the museum, compare the 
following remarks on personality : 

" In such a place, then, as the museum, we may well look with awe 
' Ccitiiiitralimi an Painting. (Macmillan and Co., New Vorl:, 1895.) 


at the long succession of efforts made by our ancestors in art, those whom 
we know and those whom we do not know, but from whom we inherit 
in common. It is to study some of these efforts, among which may be 
some that will avail you, that we have come together. We are not 
anxious at present to assign them any exact date or sequence, except as 
the one may strictly derive from the other. For our purposes we may 
often be anxious, on the contrary, to forget their date and the place 
where they were made ; because what is most interesting to us in the 
line of personal inquiry is, that these artists of all kinds and degrees were 
men like ourselves and had to work with means not dissimilar to ours. 
. . . You will see again what I have been telling you, last week and 
to-day, that the man is the main question, and that there can be no 
absolute view of nature. I do not know how often you may be talked 
to about the theories of art, and how much you care for the same at the 
present moment, but at some moment or other you will have 
brought before you that most important conflict of realism and its 
opposite. I don't say idealism, because I don't so distinctly know 
what is meant by it, while realism has been in the market now for 
quite a time, and has served as a beautiful playground for various 

" What I want you to notice is that, though abstractly there must be 
such a thing — I should be the last to gainsay it — yet, in these realities 
with which we are concerned, realism is a very evasive distinction. If 
the experiments that I spoke of bring out the result that you have seen, 
there is for you practically no such thing as realism. 

" You need not, therefore, be afraid of the word ; you need not be 
afraid of indulging the illusion that you are rendering the real reality of 
the things that you look at — that you are copying, that you are 
transcribing. If you ever know how to paint somewhat well, and pass 
beyond the position of the student who has not yet learned to use his 
hands as an expression of the memories of his brain, you will always give 
to nature, that is to say, what is outside of you, the character of the lens 
through which you see it — which is yourself." (Lecture II.) 

Yet Mr. La Farge is a firm believer in the inviolability of tradition 
in art, in the ephemeral character of all " art movements " that have not 


grown in the soil of tradition — tradition, not convention. To quote 
once more from the lectures : 

" And so, by merging oneself into the methods and the reasons for 
the methods of the Masters, one would feel less inclined to have one's 
own way. And we students, we who study together, may see that 
originality does not consist in looking like no one else, but merely in 
causing to pass into our own work some personal view of the world and 
of life. Nor does it matter that these things done are the work of men 
of whom we speak as no longer living. They are always the work of 
the majority of men : for the dead outnumber the living. And with 
them we are as close to human nature as we are to the human nature 
that moves for the brief moment around us." (Lecture I.) 

Mr. La Farge is fortunate in having a literary style which is as 
personal as his talent in the arts more especially his own ; it has allowed 
him to touch in words upon regions of thought that seem to evade words. 
As he says for himself (Lecture III.) : 

" Should you hesitate a moment and believe — or rather imagine — that 
the reasons that I give are subtle, are fine drawn, pause a moment, and 
ask yourselves, on the contrary, whether they are not gross and heavy 
attempts at handling with words a thing so subtle even as the representa- 
tion of anything by a line. If, in fact, I can express these ideas adequately 
in the words of ordinary language, I must have left a great deal un- 
explained. Art begins where language ceases, and the impressions that 
we receive, and the manners through which we render them, are in 
themselves so subtle that no one has yet been able to analyse more than 
a certain exterior of the mechanism of sensation and of representation.'* 

In his analysis of the art of Mr. La Farge, M. Bourget has recog- 
nised the subtle connection of Eastern calm with the fierce activity of 
America, which is now, as it were, a great crucible. In it the problems 
of art, as of race, are being tried. There is much in Mr. La Farge's genius 
which could not belong to one of purely Anglo-Saxon blood ; much also 
that could not have been developed in the more academic atmosphere of 


European culture. One of the distinguishing qualities of a man of his 
inflexible individuality is that while he is often the founder of a school, 
he can never belong to one, and must of necessity be solitary. Such 
enforced solitude, as the French writer says, makes it difficult to foresee 
whether there will ever be an American art, but there are certainly 
already great artists in America. 

And that, after all, is enough for the glory of a nation. 


Adams, Mr. Henry, 80, 95 

Agassi z, 27 

Aldrich, — , 22 

Ames, Mr. Frederick, 68 

Ames Memorial, North Easton, Mass., 71 

Ariitamai (Princess), 98 

Arundel Society, 14 

Bancel, Victor, 8 

Bancroft, John, 18 

Bergamo, 6S 

Bing, Mr. S., 50, 72 

Binsse de St. Victor, M., 8, 10 

Biihop Hat to (drawing), 21 

Blanc, Charles, 11,12 

Bloomingdale, 10 

Boston Museum, 16 

Boston, 68 

Bourget, Paul, 80, 83, loi 

Brick Church, New York, 43 

Brooks, Bishop, 77 

Brovvnell, Mr., 22 

Browning, Illustrations for, 21 

Burne-Jones, Sir Edward, 13, 29, 50 

Butler, George, 22, 33 

Cambridge, Mass., 27, 54, 72 

Ceylon, 99 

Chicago, 71 

Church of the Ascension, New York 
(decorations), 44, 71 

Church of the Paulists, New York (decor- 
ations), 48 

Church, Congregational, Newport (decor- 
ations), 40 

Church, Holy Trinity, Boston (decorations), 
29» 30, 33, 37, 38, 43, 5^, 52, 60, 75, 

Church, St. Thomas*, New York (decor- 
ations), 37, 38 

Colonna, Francis, 68 

Colvin, Mr. Sidney, 29 

Considerations on Paintings zi^ 99, 100 

Corot, 13 

Correggio, 1 1 

Couture, Thomas, 10, 11, 16 

Delacroix, Eugene, 12, 13 
Derby, Dr. Richard, 6"^ 
Dresden, 12 

Emerson, 22 
England, 12, 29 

Fiji Islands, 8 i 

Fisherman and the Genii^ The (drawing), 21 

France, 14 

Franklin, Benjamin, 16 

Fromentin, Eugene, 81 

Gainsborough, 12 

Gautier, Thcophile, 1 1 

Giant and the Traveller^ The (drawing), 2 i 

Giotto, 13, 14 

Guerrier, General, 7 

Harlem (U.S.A.), 10 
Harvard College, 54, 60, 72 
Hawaii, 97, 99 
Heins, Mr. George, 43 
Homer, Winslow, 22 
Hudson River, 8, 14, 15 
Hudson River School, 14 
Hunt, Holman, 13 
„ William, 15, 16 

Japan, 22, 44, 78, 80, ST 

Java, 99 

Johnston, Mr. J. H., 71 




La Farge, Bancel, 71 

„ C. Grant, 43, 71 

„ John, his origin and family, 7, 8, 
10 ; education in America, 10 ; visits 
Paris and works in Couturc*s studio, 
10 — 1 3 ; returns to New York and enters 
a lawyer's office, 14 ; studies under 
William Hunt, 15, 16 ; his marriage, 
16 ; settles at Newport, Rhode Island, 
16 ; illustrates books, 21, 22 ; visits 
Europe, 29 ; devotes himself to decora- 
tive art, 29 — 48 ; his work in glass, 

49 — 5^» ^^ — 71 i visits Japan, 80 ; his 
travels in the South Sea Islands, 84 — 99 j 
his lectures on painting, 99 — 101 

La Farge, Jean Frederic de, 7, 8 

Lathrop, G. P., 17, 22, 30, 37 
„ Mrs. Thornton, 27 

Last ^^ alley y The, 27 

Leclerc, General, 7 

Leonardo, 1 1, 80 

Longfellow, Illustrations for, 21 

Louvre, The, 10 

Madonna^ The^ 18, 29 

Madox-Brown, Ford, 29, 50 

Malietoa, King, 92 

Manchester Exhibition, 12 

Marquand, Mr. Henry, 68 

Marsh, Mr. Henry, 21 

Martin, Homer, 22 

Mataafa, King, 95, 96 

May, Edward, 1 1 

Methuen, Mass., 71 

Metropolitan Museum, New York, 71 

Michelangelo, 80 

Millais, Sir J., 13 

Millet, Jean-Fran9ois, 13, 15 

Moorea, 97, 99 

Munich, 12, 38 

New England Meadow Land^ 27 

Newport, Rhode island, 16, 26, 40, 68 
New York, 8, 9, 14, 18, 81 

Padua, 14 

Paris, 10, 30, 38, 50, 71, 80, 84 
Paradise Valley^ Newport^ 27 
Perry, Commodore, 16 

„ Miss Margaret, 16 
Philadelphia, 7 
Portland, Maine, 40 
Pumpelly, Prof, 27, 44, 78 
Puvis de Chavannes, 12, 29, 21 (note) 

Reid, Mr. Whitelaw, 48 
Rembrandt, 11, 13, 80 
Reynolds, Sir Joshua, 12 
Richardson, Mr. H. H. 

33-35» 51 
Rossetti, D. G., 13, 50 

„ William, 29 

Rousseau, Thc'odorc, 13 

Ruskin, 13 

Saint Domingo, 7, 8 

Saint Gaudcns, Mr., 37, 40, 44 

Saint Johiy 18, 29 

Saint Paul, 16 — 18 

Saint- Vic tor (family), 10 

„ Paul dc, 10, I 2 
Samoa, Si, 84, 96 — 98 
Stedman , 22 

(architect), 30, 

Stevenson, R. L., 98 
Tadema, L. Alma, 68 
Tahiti, 81, 96, 97 
Turner, 12 
Tutuila, 84 

Vanderbilt, Mr. Cornelius, 43, 68 
„ Mr. W. H., 60, 72 

Wolf-Ckarme}\ The (drawing), 21, 22 
Wright, Mr. Thomas, 62 (note) 

irrfs . PeHimemy^ - 



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